Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

10,000 watch Commonwealth flotilla

The largest flotilla ever seen on the River Clyde sails into Glasgow as part of the city's Commonwealth Games celebrations
The largest flotilla ever seen on the River Clyde sails into Glasgow as part of the city's Commonwealth Games celebrations

Over 10,000 people lined the banks of the Clyde to see the largest flotilla of boats ever to pass through Glasgow.

Over 1,900 sailors manned the 250-strong fleet which made its way from Greenock, led by the CalMac ferry Lochinvar.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Scotland, which organised the 19 nautical mile journey, estimated around 10,000 spectators attended both of its official spectator sites at the Beacon Arts Centre and the Riverside Museum.

Many more lined the route of the flotilla to catch a glimpse of the fleet, which ranged from small family cruising yachts to more traditional working boats including the VIC32 Clyde puffer.

The flotilla also featured a nostaligic trip down the Clyde for Andy Gallacher, a native of Partick, who departed the Clyde in early 1958 at the age of 16 as a deck boy on board a British Tanker and never returned to live there.

He returned to his home port aboard the Levingtonlass with his brother Jim, who travelled from Vancouver to take part.

One of the finest boats of the early 20th century Scottish fishing fleet also sailed down the Clyde.

Launched in 1900, The Swan survived two world wars and the threat of destruction, and has been authentically restored to her former glory by The Swan Trust.

She sailed from Shetland to join the Small Ship's Race and the Commonwealth Flotilla.

James Stuart, chief executive of RYA Scotland said: "We are amazed and absolutely thrilled at the success of the Commonwealth Flotilla.

"We wanted to inject some colour into the Clyde for one weekend in what is probably the most important fortnight in Glasgow's recent history.

"We got the sense in the last couple of days that this was going to be a big event but the response that we got from spectators throughout the day has been incredible, and totally beyond our expectations.

"Speaking to people just after we arrived at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, we really got a sense of the interest and excitement people had in watching this historic event and we want to thank the people of Glasgow and Inverclyde and beyond who turned out to make this such a perfect day."

To accommodate the number of boats and participants RYA Scotland built a pop-up marina in Glasgow city centre, utilising over a kilometre of pontoons and around 100 volunteers.

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