Maritime Magnificence in St Petersburg
A convey of age-old sailing ships, some with masts towering 120 feet tall, graced St Petersburg's waters this week as the city played host to the Baltic Seas Tall Ships Regatta.
The highlight of the event was a grand sailing of all the ships entered into the competition in a regatta this weekend along the River Neva. President Vladmir Putin was on hand on Vasilievsky Island to award prizes and commendations to the intrepid sailors.
So far 126 vessels are set to take to the seas in a series of races through Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Finland. Polish and Russian crews have entered more than 50 ships between them and other competitors include teams from Finland, Latvia, the UK, Denmark, Germany and Austria. The first race left the Polish port of Gdynia, after a five -day celebration, and sailed into the Gulf of Finland and then onto St.Petersburg. Early next week the fleet will sail through the Finnish archipelago and then make their way towards Turku. The second race then sets off from Turku on 26 July heading towards the Finnish island of Uto.
The Tall Ships Races is organised by a charity Sail Training International and the organisers are keen to stress that it offers a chance for young people to learn teamwork, crewmanship and self-reliance. Every year between 70 and 150 ships take to the seas as part of the event and around 5 to 6,000 people steer their vessels through the choppy waters.