From Friday 22 to Monday 25 July, 43 of the most beautiful sailing ships in the world will dock in Antwerp for The Tall Ships Races, an event of the City of Antwerp and Port of Antwerp-Bruges in collaboration with Balthazar Events and numerous sponsors and partners.
The preparations for this spectacular sailing race, of which the 2nd stage this time goes from Antwerp to Aalborg in Denmark, is in full swing. Many Belgian trainees, united in the Antwerp Crew, are also impatiently counting down to the arrival of the Tall Ships.
43 Tall Ships will moor at the Scheldt Quays, the Kattendijkdok and the docks around the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) from 22 to 25 July. It is already the seventh time that the city can welcome these impressive ships.
The Tall Ships Races
The Tall Ships Races consist of two races, a first race from Esbjerg in Denmark to Harlingen in the Netherlands, after which they sail from Harlingen to Antwerp.
The second race starts on July 25 in Antwerp and heads for Aalborg in Denmark.
Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA): “The Tall Ships Races brings the cathedrals from the sea to Antwerp and provides a unique encounter between history and the present in the heart of our city. Together with many, I am therefore looking forward to this wonderful event in which we moreover, we could finally make Antwerp sparkle even more with a great fireworks display.”
The last edition that visited Antwerp, in 2016, attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the city. The organization now hopes to match those figures.
Alderman for Tourism Koen Kennis (N-VA): “Whenever they visit our city, the ‘Tall Ships’ grow into a popular festival, one of the largest in Flanders. At the same time, numerous events take place on the outskirts that provide a layer of glamor and standing, own to the sailing world. Antwerp and The Tall Ships Races are a good marriage, that much is clear.”
Cathedrals of the Sea
Participating ships are divided into class, indicated by a letter from A-D, with A ships being the largest. 16 of those class A ships will be on display during the stop in Antwerp, in addition to a lot of B, C and D ships.
Training vessel Dar Mlodziezy, a class A vessel, already gave a preview on 22 April when it docked at the cruise terminal along the Steen. The from ship Poland dropped off 100 cadets from the Antwerp Maritime Academy, previously called the Hogere Zeevaartschool who were allowed to go out on the open sea for four weeks.
With an extensive recruitment campaign, the city and port managed to attract a hundred Belgian young people. There was an inclusive selection, also young people with a mental or physical disability and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are part of this crew.
They sail along as a trainee during The Tall Ships Races. The Races are all about those youngsters, who can gain an incredible experience during the race. They learn everything about the ins and outs of a ship and roll up their sleeves themselves. In addition, they are given the opportunity to develop and sharpen competencies that they can use in daily life, at school and later in their job. For example, they learn to work together in a team, tackle challenges in a problem-solving way and take responsibility.
The trainees will sail along during one of the two stages, from Harlingen to Antwerp or from Antwerp to Aalborg.
Harbour Alderman Annick De Ridder (N-VA): “We are all looking forward to the arrival of the most beautiful sailing ships in the world, which can be admired here in Antwerp from 22 to 25 July. But those who are most looking forward to these Tall Ships Races are the 100 youngsters of the Antwerp Crew. After all, these young people aged 15 to 25 get the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of such a beautiful ship as a trainee. In addition to this ship experience, this very diverse group learns important skills that will come in handy later in professional life. And above all, eternal friendship! I secretly hope that they will feel like aspiring to one of the many wonderful jobs in our port later on.”
These young people have gone through an extensive fundraising process. They could count on expert support from permanent coaches who will guide them throughout the entire process. In addition to the financial support from the City of Antwerp, Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the various sponsors, they had to raise money themselves by organizing various activities to pay for their ‘package deal’. This includes the journey on a Tall Ship, but also the spacious setting and the trip back home.
Sustainable, connecting and inclusive
The Tall Ships Races attaches great importance to the theme of sustainability this year. For example, the organization will arrange for the planting of trees in Flanders, in order to compensate for the CO² emissions that this event entails.
Electricity will be provided by wind energy through a partnership with Vleemo. If that wind energy is not available, the organization will turn to other wind or solar parks.
The organiszation also supports River Cleanup, an organization that works worldwide through volunteers to clean up waste in and around rivers and is also active in Belgium, including in Antwerp. Furthermore, the event will work with reusable cups to produce as little waste as possible. Part of the contribution that sponsors make in the context of a partnership is invested by the organiser in these sustainable initiatives.
In addition to sustainability, the organization is also working on inclusiveness by giving ten young people with a disability the opportunity to participate as trainees.
Finally, this event focuses on connection, on the one hand this is a great collaboration between the city and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, on the other, young people from all over the world work together as a team during the Races.
Organization and sponsors
The Tall Ships Races Antwerp are organized by the City of Antwerp and Port of Antwerp-Bruges under the umbrella of Sail Training International (STI). Sail Training International is the leading organizer and provider of races, events, conferences, seminars, publications, surveys and other services to the international sailing training community. One of the founding members of STI is Sail Training Association Belgium, the umbrella sailing organization of Belgium and partner of The Tall Ships Races.