by Kate Holmes
In Saint-Petersburg, following seven months of winter, come eighty nights when the sun hardly sets and celebrations grip the city. They call them the ‘White Nights’. During this time the Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club will host the Sails of White Nights – National Congress Palace Cup between the 5th and 11th June 2012.
Sail of the White Nights
White Nights have become an intrinsic part of St. Petersburg identity; a celebration of the city’s unique beauty and its role as the country’s artistic epicentre. Celebrations of St. Petersburg’s White Nights take part in virtually every corner of the city at dance clubs, beach clubs and of course at the Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club.
Vladimir Liubomirov, Commodore, Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg, commented: 'The period of ‘White Nights’ is especially significant for St. Petersburg. Blanketed in twilight the city becomes mysterious and is breathing with romance. The ‘White Nights’ have such a strong attraction that people simply leave their houses to walk along the streets. Such a combination of romance and dynamics in a city is reflected in our tradition to host a sailing event in the very heart of the city.'
The regatta is a match racing event which has been going from strength to strength each year, first being officially named as the National Congress Palace Cup in 2007, then, in 2008, ISAF included the event in their World Match Racing Tour calendar. Most recently, in 2009, ISAF promoted the event to a Grade 1 regatta, the highest rating an ISAF match racing event can have.
The ascension of the Sails of White Nights - National Congress Palace Cup to a Grade 1 ISAF match racing event has attracted some of the best match racers from around Europe and the World, drawing skippers from within the top 50 ISAF world rankings.
Having some of the best racers in the world come to the Sails of White Nights - National Congress Palace Cup helps to raise marine sporting activities in the country and allows the club to get more children in the community involved in sailing, something that the St Petersburg Yacht Club is passionate about.
Much attention is paid to the children and there is a special programme for them. Local children between the ages of three and 14 are given an opportunity to participate in an art contest, which, if they win, gives them a chance to sail and compete in their own regatta: the Sails of Dreams. Budding young artists can draw anything to do with purity and kindness such as the sea, sails, rainbows and boats. The competition intends to advertise and encourage the sport of sailing to young people throughout the city.
Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg website