Tall Ships sail on, despite terror threat

Bookmark and Share

PHOTO FEATURE: Dozens of the most graceful and historic vessels in the world have been sailing along Norway’s coast this month, as the annual Tall Ships Races called first at Fredrikstad in the south and then, this week, sailed into Bergen. The Tall Ships Races scheduled for this weekend unexpectedly coincided with heightened security around the country because of a vague yet credible threat of  terrorist attack, but the nautical extravaganza was surging forward as planned.

Tall Ships Races in FredrikstadA total of 69 sailing vessels took part in the Tall Ships Races segment in Fredrikstad, 22 of them so-called “Class A.” They’re the biggest of the vessels and include Norway’s own three high-masted ships Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Christian Radich and Sørlandet. Above, another of the high-masted participants in the Tall Ships Races, the Stad Amsterdam, is shown rounding the portion of Fredrikstad known as Gamlebyen (the old town), which features a sprawling fortress along the river that leads out to sea. ALL PHOTOS: @Marie Peyre

Tall Ships Races 2014 in FredrikstadThe Tall Ships Races, which began in 1956, rank as the largest regatta of its kind and as one of the world’s largest sporting events. Participating vessels come from all over Europe and, this year, from as far as the Caribbean. Fredrikstad, the first port of call in Norway this year, once ranked among the country’s largest schooner towns itself, not least because of the timber industry and the exports it created. Here, the high-masted ships moored in the heart of the city, like they did more than a century ago.

Christian Radich, Tall Ships RacesNorway’s Oslo-based Christian Radich (shown here in a close-up) won the Tall Ships Races four years ago and Norwegian captains and crews have long played major roles in the event, which stems from participating nations’ efforts to maintain sailing skills by using the vessels as training ships. Today the Races are organized by Sail Training International, a charitable organization based in the UK that has member organizations in 28 countries. Poland’s high-masted Kapitan Glowacki won the Class A race from Harlingen in The Netherlands to Fredrikstad, with Norway’s Statsraad Lehmkuhl and Christian Radich placing second and third respectively.

Tall Ships Races in FredrikstadMore vessels, from a bird’s eye view, taken from the mast of another of Norway’s own Tall Ships, Sørlandet, home-ported in Kristiansand.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl sunrise signatureSunrise shot of Bergen’s own Statsraad Lehmkuhl, which later led the Bergen-bound flotilla out of Fredrikstad, across the fjord and around Norway’s southern coast to the West Coast city of Bergen. Thousands of spectators were expected in Bergen over the weekend to admire the ships and follow the regatta as it continued from its starting point in Harlingen in The Netherlands to its final port in Esbjerg, Denmark. The voyage from Fredrikstad to Bergen wasn’t officially part of the regatta but rather a so-called “Cruise in Company,” with each vessel sailing as its captain and crew chose to along the coast.

Tall Ship Races in FredrikstadThe vessels sailed from Fredrikstad on July 15, with Bergen’s Statsraad Lehmkuhl in the lead, and started arriving in Bergen on Thursday. That’s also when Norwegian police and government officials announced that Norway was under an unspecified but credible threat of terrorist attack. City officials in Bergen and race organizers announced the Tall Ships Races would proceed as planned, with armed police patrolling the streets and security at unusually high levels. On Saturday, civil aviation authorities closed the air space over downtown Bergen at the urging of police. Warm, sunny weather and the unique gathering of so many sailing vessels led to predictions of large crowds turning out for the event in a city that, like Fredrikstad, has centuries of maritime history.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund