The Tall Ships Race is a sailing extravaganza that’s held annually, where tall ships (similar to those pictured above) take part in a race of several hundred miles across European waters.
For the first time, Sunderland was host to the first leg of the race, welcoming a fleet of 80 ships to the banks of the River Wear before they set sail for Esbjerg in Denmark. Two colleagues from BGL Customer Services Sunderland, Jason Hogg, Customer Experience Representative, and Emma Hayes, Customer Experience Representative Apprentice, took part in this year’s race – read Jason’s blog of the first leg of the race below.
“Emma and I sailed on the Sørlandet, a training ship from Norway, which is the oldest fully rigged ship still in operation. In total, we spent six days aboard. We left port in Sunderland on Saturday and arrived in Esbjerg on the following Wednesday morning. As soon as we left port at 6pm it was all hands on deck as we prepared to hoist and trim the sails. This involved a lot of rope pulling – a lot! We had to pull the yards – the wooden poles that run perpendicular to the mast – around so that we had optimum position for the wind direction. From there we hoisted the sails and trimmed them to make sure they were in the best position to build the most speed.
“After all of this was done, we were then divided into watches. My watch was blue watch, 8am -12pm and 8pm – 12am. We were either on standby or we undertook ‘physical’ roles. These were helm, standby helm, safety and lookout.
• Helm – you get to steer the ship
• Standby helm - you get to steer the ship if Helm goes to the toilet!
• Safety - this involved walking a route to check over the ship, making sure everything was in order, checking on the lookout and keeping the ship’s time (you have to ring the bell every half hour)
• Lookout – for this you stood on the foredeck (front) to keep an eye out for any obstacles and ring the bell if you see any – once for starboard (right), twice for port (left), and three for dead ahead
“On the Tuesday afternoon we got word from the captain that the organisers had brought the finish time of the race forward to 2pm Tuesday, due to a lack of wind. After this time ships could use their engines to get into port on time. Any ships not over the line by this time would receive a penalty added to their total time. After all the calculations our ship finished in second place!
“Once we got to port in Esbjerg we spent the next two days celebrating; the crew parade was absolutely unbelievable, we spent two hours walking through Esbjerg, chanting shanties about our ship, soaked head to toe from vodka-filled water pistols – apparently a ship tradition! At the end of it we picked up our trophy for finishing second and headed to the crew party. The hospitality we received in Esbjerg was unparalleled. After one of the best weeks of my life I had to go home, leave all of my new friends on the ship before they left for the second leg of the race (when they again came in second!)
“I learned much more than I had ever expected to learn before I boarded. The teamwork we showed to come second, the camaraderie, even the life skills like learning useful knots are all things I will use at some point and something I would have probably not learned without this. I challenged myself, broke boundaries I never thought I could break, and forged a bond with those on board that will last a lifetime. Sailing on the Sørlandet was everything I thought it would be and more.”