Tall Ships at Royal Greenwich – a Triumph!

September 13th, 2014 by Guy
SB Will at Tall Ships Festival

We led the parade of Traditional Thames Barges

Last weekend we took part in the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival which was only a short trip down the river from our moorings at Tower Bridge. Based between Royal Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal, this was one of the largest Sail Training International tall ship events ever held in UK waters and it really did not disappoint. The event began with a regatta from Falmouth to the capital with the fleet leaving the West Country on the 31st August before sailing up the Thames for a five day celebration in Royal Greenwich between 4th and 9th September involving tall ship cruises, fireworks and other river and maritime based events. The festivities culminated in a spectacular Parade of Sail as the tall ship fleet formed up and processed out of London and onto their next adventure. When the Thames is full of tall ships everyone here at Topsail gets excited! It was a rare experience where, just for a few days, maritime heritage dominated the capitals thoughts.

A Spectacular Fleet

There were more than 50 tall ships of all different shapes and sizes. In fact, there were so many that they had to be moored in many locations: 16 at Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier, 25 smaller vessels at Wood Wharf in the West India Docks, 6 moored near Greenwich Pier and a further 6 larger vessels at Victoria Deep Water on the Greenwich Peninsular. The star of the show was undoubtedly the Dar Mlodziezy. Moored near Enderby’s Wharf, her great size and proud lines cut an impressive shape in the sky when cruising round to Blackwall Point.

The Barge at Greenwich

Fireworks at Woolwich

Topsail’s Rachael snaps the fireworks at Woolwich

Dealing with old historic vessels in the capital, we contributed our part to the festival by joining the Parade of Traditional Thanes Barges on Friday 5th between Royal Greenwich and Woolwich. Our very own Sailing Barge Will lead the parade when we past the grandstand at 3pm ahead of fellow Thames Sailing Barges Lady Daphne and Adieu. Sadly Sailing Barges Kitty and Pudge had engine failure, but the three of us, blazing with flags, were proud to celebrate the tradition of the Thames Sailing Barge and their historic contribution to sailing and maritime heritage in the capital. We also had the privilege of taking a group out on the river for the awe inducing fireworks on Saturday night. Our skipper, Jerry, managed to get the Will incredibly close to the action at Woolwich which wowed our guests and the crew. Viewing fireworks through the masts of tall ships is something other-worldly event. You have to pinch yourself!

“Just a quick note to say we had a wonderful time aboard Sailing Barge Will last night. The event was awesome. The food was wonderful. Hot, tasty, and enough of it to feel full. Wonderful. The staff on board were friendly and helpful. With Rachael working very hard to make sure we all had an excellent evening. Thank you. Lynne Bullivant.”

Sail Training International

Parade of Sail

A beautiful Parade of Sail

It’s important to take a moment to thank Sail Training International (STI) for organising this momentous event and to thank them for their continued work in supporting tall ship events across Europe. Their contribution towards sail training and offering amazing opportunities to youngsters deserves our utmost gratitude. Without them these events simply wouldn’t happen. It all began when the organisation grew out of the Sail Training International Race Committee that staged the first Tall Ships Race in 1956. They continue to run annual Tall Ships Races in Europe and the North Atlantic that draws scores of tall ships and visitors to European ports. They do this in conjunction with supporting the sail training community with learning, research, events, seminars and publications and composed of 29 countries, they really are an international force to be reckoned with.

“Here at Sail Training International our purpose is the development and education of young people through the sail training experience, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background. We are a registered charity (not-for-profit organisation) and have worldwide membership and activities.” (See more…)

Hear, hear!

By Guy Wimpory (guy@topsailevents.co.uk)

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