The day one of the official opening of activities of the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta has brought together thousands of locals who have come to the Portal de la Pau, in front of the Columbus statue, which is installed in the race village.
Until September 24th, the boats will be moored at Barcelona’s Port Vell and will be open to the public at certain times. On the 24th, at the same time as the festival of La Mercè, the 28 boats will parade down the city’s waterfront for the start of the first leg of the race that will take them to the French port of Toulon .
In the spherical tent there are various activities of the organizers and sponsors of the race. Next to it the tents of the exhibition 'Barcelona Sails' are laid out. It shows the public information of the Barcelona World Race, the Education Program for young people and the Commitment with the Environment of the race. The public can take part in the free activities which are fully open to everyone, as well as find information about the activities of the Consorci El Far - which exhibits in front of its tent two of its catboats with lateen sails or 'muletes' that used to work both at sea and on rivers, Dúnia and Mare Nostrum - and the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB). Both are the institutions that organize the event in Barcelona together with Sail Training International (STI).
But the stars of these festive days are the majestic Tall Ships and, especially, their crews. These boats are dedicated to teaching traditional sailing, with very rich and varied programs that have in common training values ??of coexistence, respect for the sea and its environment, controlled risk taking, developing self confidence and teamwork.
These are values that all the crews highlight. Rob Blair, an American who is sailing as a trainee onboard Santa Maria Manuela, decided to get on board after learning about its program at a congregation in Amsterdam. Three years later, he is living the experience of sailing as crew apprentice along the Mediterranean coast. He sailed from Malaga to Barcelona and he’s now really excited to take part in the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta. During the voyage, Rob is responsible of assisting the professional crew, of whom he emphasizes its quality and friendliness: 'I have always felt part of the team. It’s great to see everyone’s mutual respect and seamanship.' Coming to Barcelona was one of the motivations to be part of this adventure: 'In addition to knowing the city, I hope to meet other classic boats. Who knows if it will be to sail onboard in the future?'
One of the great attractions of visiting Port Vell is also to able to see up close and climb onboard ships that have written the history of sailing in the last two centuries. For Barcelona, the three-mast schooner Santa Eulalia has an endearing interest. It was restored by the Barcelona Maritime Museum (MMB) and since it’s always moored at the Moll de la Fusta, it’s part of Barcelona’s waterfront skyline.This schooner was built in 1918 to transport goods across the Mediterranean and sailed to Cuba twice. During the Civil War it was also used for the black market and was even armed with a cannon. In its more recent history, it was used for underwater works and is now a training ship operated by the MMB that aims to show classic sailing to citizens. At 95 years of age, this iconic boat is open all year to all the public who wants to visit it or sail onboard. Most of its functioning is thanks to the MMB volunteers involved in its maintenance.
His first officer, Francisco José Bravo, said that after the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona began to open to the sea, but regarding traditional sailing there is a lot of work to be done: 'There is still a long way to go, especially with classic sailing, and the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta is a party, a congregation of vessels, crews and people that offers a great opportunity to discover traditional boats.'
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3:57 PM Sat 21 Sep 2013GMT
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