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Ahoy there: Tall Ships sail ever closer to Belfast city


The Tall Ships berthed in Belfast in 2009

The Tall Ships berthed in Belfast in 2009

The Tall Ships berthed in Belfast in 2009

Belfast Maritime Festival will welcome vessels from all over the world when it plays host to the Tall Ships Race 2015 next month.

This is the third time that Belfast has welcomed the Tall Ships Race, having previously staged the event in 1991 and 2009.

However, with the city acting as the staging post for the first leg of the race, even more ships will be taking part this year, with more than 50 vessels - including 17 massive Class A ships - making the port their home for four days before setting off on their annual challenge.

While there will be a strong turn-out from British tall ships and smaller traditional vessels, there will also be some making the journey from as far away as American, Australia, Ecuador and even Brazil.

Other vessels will be visiting from Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Starting off with a friendly Northern Irish welcome in Belfast, the fleet will race north

past the Outer Herbrides and Shetland Islands and across to Aalesund in Norway.

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The picturesque town of Aalesund also harboured the event for the first time in 2001.

Aalesund is situated on the north west coast of Norway and is known far beyond the country's borders for its beauty and architectural character.

It is also Norway's largest harbour for exporting fish and fish products.

The second race leg is a more relaxed race and offers a magical cruise through the Norwegian fjords along the Norwegian archipelago to Kristiansand.

Norway is famous for its majestic fjords and mountains. It is described as 'The Land of the Midnight Sun' because during the summer months the sun never completely drops below the horizon in northern Arctic Circle areas.

The official language is Norwegian and the largest city is Oslo. Norway has a population of 5.08 million.

The final race will take the ships from Kristiansand south across the Skagerrak into the Kattegat before entering the Limfjorden which leads to Aalborg in Denmark.

Aalborg in Denmark has had a love affair with the Tall Ships Races since 1999 when the city hosted the event for the first time, and again in 2004 and 2010.

Situated at the Liim Fiord where it was founded by Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, Aalborg is both a historic and modern city. It is the fourth largest city in Denmark. The capital city of Denmark is Copenhagen and the official language of Denmark is Danish and it's population is just over 5.5 million. Lego was invented in Denmark and Legoland and the company headquarters are located in Billund, on the Jutland peninsula.

Among some of the star attractions at Tall Ships Belfast is the Class A Tall Ship Cisne Branco (right), meaning White Swan, from the Brazilian Navy.

Based in Rio, Cisne Branco is a full-rigged ship built in Amsterdam and launched in 1999. It was commissioned as a Brazilian naval vessel on March 9, 2000.

Cisne Branco is the third Brazilian Navy sail-training yacht to carry this famous name. The first was the classic 15-metre wooden yacht Tritonia (79 ft), which was designed by the legendary naval architect Alfred Mylne and built in 1910.

The yacht arrived in Brazil in 1978, and after extensive repairs undertook an extended eight-month voyage across the Atlantic.

The second Cisne Branco (83ft), which had an aluminium hull, was used by the navy between 1980 and 1986 after which it was passed on to a naval college.

The ship's project is inspired by the design of the 19th century clippers. Cisne Branco is normally used in national and international activities to showcase the Brazilian Navy and Brazilian culture.

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the only one that speaks Portugese. It is the fifth largest country in the world by both land area and population which is estimated at around 194 million people.

The capital is Brasilia, while the largest city is Sao Paulo. Millions of tourists visit Brazil every year and there are around 2,500 airports in Brazil - Northern Ireland has just three so you can imagine how big the country is. Football is the most popular sport in Brazil.

All the way from Australia, you will want to catch a glimpse of Young Endeavour, a brigantine rigged ship which is operated by the Royal Australian Navy but primarily used to provide sail training to Australian youth.

The ship was built in 1987 and was a gift from the United Kingdom to the government and people of Australia to mark the bicentenary in 1988.

The ship is 44 metres (144ft) long with a 32 metre (26ft) tall main mast and 10 sails.

Australia is the world's sixth largest country by area with a population of over 22 million people. Due to its large size and isolation from the rest of the world, Australia is sometimes known as the "island continent".

A desert area known as the outback covers much of the land and the world's largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, is found off the north-eastern coast of Australia.

Sydney is the country's largest city while Canberra is the capital.

Now turn to your work book and answer the questions on Tall Ship Travels.

Ship and country facts

Alexander Von  Humbolt II:

Class A - 64.73 metres - Rig: Barque 3

With 24 sails, it is one of the most impressive vessels in the fleet and resembles a windjammer of 150 years ago.

Owned by Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training, it can accommodate 54 trainees.

It sails the North and Baltic seas in summer and in the winter months seeks the warmer climates of the Mediterranean, the Canaries and even the Caribbean.

With a crew of 25, it also offers voyages in Tall Ships events.


Population: 82.5 million

Capital: Berlin

Language: German

Chancellor: Angela Merkel

La Belle Poule:

Class B – 37.20 metres – Rig: Topsail Schooner 2

Built in 1932 for the French Naval Academy, it was designed along the lines of the type of fishing vessel which used to sail from the northern coast of France to Iceland during the late 1800s. Its primary purpose was to train midshipmen in sea craft and carried a usual complement of one officer, 10 petty officers, five non-rated men and about 12 midshipmen or trainees. During World War 2 La Belle Poule and its sister ship Etoile relocated to Portsmouth in the south of England where they served the Free French Forces. It carries 500 sq metres of sail and can be powered by an auxiliary motor.


Population: 63 million

Capital: Paris

Language: French

President: Francois Hollande

Nautical terms

1. Nautical:

Relating to things of the sea such as ships, boats and sailing.

2. Stay:

A stout cable or rope used to support a mast

3. Topsail:

A square sail set above the lowest sail on the mast of a square-rigged ship.

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