With the world of charter closely focused on the modern sailing yacht it is easy to forget the ships of years gone by still sailing our high seas. This weekend saw the arrival of the largest fleet of Tall Ships to visit London in a quarter of a century, throwing the Thames back in time as around 50 tall ships, barges and traditional vessels decorated its waters.
With their towering sails billowing in the wind, the ships set sail from Falmouth racing to the Isle of Wight before heading up the River Thames for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta.
Ships from around the world came to take part in this event including the Shtandart, a modern replica of a Russian navy flagship built for Peter the Great in 1703.
Also on show was Tenacious, the largest wooden tall ship of her kind which is operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust and Telca who is almost 100 years old. The ships are moored at four sites along the Thames – Woolwich, Maritime Greenwich, Greenwich Peninsula and Canary Wharf and while based in the capital, they can be viewed from the land as well as on board.
The festival will end on Tuesday with a grand parade of sail down the river as the ships head back to the open sea for their onward voyages.
Part of the 2013 London Boat Show included the UK Star Championships; a race for Olympic class Star keelboats. These sailboats were recently seen at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and were on the waters of the Royal Victoria Docks on the 18th January, ready to race with a difference. The recent arrival of snow in London meant that they were off to a chilly start, and the Olympians and World Champion sailors set out to brave the cold weather. These famous sailors included the likes of Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson and Michael McIntyre.
The difference with these Star boats was their appearance.
This was a Fine Art Sails regatta, a new means to showcase art. The main sail
of each boat was a canvas for some of the best international modern artists, including EINE (a favourite of Samantha Cameron, Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife), Jaime Gili and INSA. With sails catching in the winds, the artwork constantly moves and changes appearance throughout the race. The regatta was won by French sailor Xavier Rohart and Serge Pulfer of Switzerland, the only non-British pair in the race. Not all the art was on the water though; Ben Ainslie also donated his Finn class sail to Fine Art Sails, to be displayed in the main exhibition hall.
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