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Spectacular scene as tall ships arrive in Stockholm

James Savage · 27 Jul 2007, 10:56

Published: 27 Jul 2007 10:56 GMT+02:00

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Over a hundred tall-masted ships will be in Stockholm for the weekend, promising to create an impressive spectacle in the historic centre of the city. Officially due to arrive in Stockholm on Friday from Kotka in Finland, some of the larger ships had already docked within sight of the Royal Palace on Friday morning.

"About nine very big ships are already here and another 11 large ships are coming today," Lillian Westerberg, organizer of the Stockholm leg of the event told The Local.

The ships will be moored in Stadsgården, Skeppsbron and Skeppsholmen, all in the centre of the capital. The vessels are manned in part by young people from 19 countries, many with little prior sailing experience.

"The race is intended to be for youngsters. At least 50 percent of every crew must be aged 15 to 25. The idea is to keep young people interested in sailing and to teach them to work in teams," Westerberg said.

By Friday, the historic centre of Stockholm will be filled with a variety of tall ships dating back as far as 1892 and ranging in size from ten to 117 metres.

Among the ships is the German Alexander von Humboldt, a 54 metre former lightship converted to be a three-masted barque. One of the star attractions in Stockholm will be the Sedov, the largest sailing ship in the world. The ship, a sail training barque owned by the University of Murmansk, was built in 1920 and can accommodate up to 320 people. Many of the larger ships will be open to visitors over the weekend.

This is not the first time the race has come to Stockholm - it previously visited in 1987 and 2000. But the 116 ships expected this time round easily beats the 40 ships that came in 1987 and the 70 ships to visit in 2000. The city is spending between 7 and 8 million kronor ($1 million - $1.2 million) on hosting the event, with a further 4-6 million coming from sponsors.

"Stockholm is a fantastic place for them to come, because they can moor right in the middle of the old city. In many other places, they have to moor outside the city centre," Westerberg said.

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"It's going to be pretty crowded, though," she added.

The race is currently being led by three Norwegian ships - the Statsrad Lehmkul, the Christian Radich and the Sörland. The ships are due to stay in Stockholm until Tuesday, when they will embark on the third leg of the race to Szczecin in Poland.

Visitors coming to see the ships on Friday evening will also be entertained to a music from Swedish stars Shirley Clamp, Sonia Aldén and Mikael Samuelsson. On Sunday, Andreas Jonsson will perform, and each crew will give a rendition of a traditional Baltic song.

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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