Tall Ships' Races Szczecin 2007
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Over the past fifty years, Tall Ship races and meetings have become a unique tradition in Europe. The idea of tall ship racing emerged in England in the beginning of 1950s born by the need to save from extinction the "white birds of the oceans" ousted from the trading routes by the more economic steamships. The first Tall Ships' Regatta was organized in 1956 under the patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh. The event attracted twenty one tall ships, which took part in a race from Torbay in England to Lisbon in Portugal. The success of the event resulted in the transformation of the original Organizing Committee into The Sail Training Association (STA). This is also how the idea of "sail training" came into existence. Sail training educates young people about sailing aboard sailing ships, transgresses cultural borders, and obliterates prejudices in the course of friendly competition. In 1972 the producer of the scotch whisky that features on its label the image of "Cutty Sark" - the most beautiful and the fastest clipper of the 19th century - become the key sponsor of the event. The event then adopted a new name: "The Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Races". For many decades now, tall ship regattas and meetings have been considered to be holidays of central importance to all sailors, but their significance is special for the younger ones, since the regulations of the race require that at least one half of the crews be composed of sailors between 15-25 years of age. Cities of the world open their welcoming gates to the international brotherhood of sailors, and the sporting competition, sailor games, and parties in pubs and in the streets attract bothand outside people: thousands now travel long distance to become immersed in the atmosphere of the Tall Ship meetings. Such meetings provide ample opportunities to become familiar with work and life on board the ships of olden days as well as of those constructed today. Tall shops, celebrating their renaissance, allow one to "feel the wind in the sails," join in communal sea-shanty singing, listen to stories told by the contemporary "yarn spinning" sea-salts, and watch the proud tall ship parades when trhe whole flotilla leaves hospitable harbors. Since Spring 2002, the organization of the tall ship races and meetings according to the sail training formula was taken over from Sail Training Association by a new association. the Sail Training International (STI). In 2003, after thirty years of cooperation, the sponsorship relationship with the producer of the scotch whisky came to a close. Since 2004, the event has been held under the name of "The Tall Ships’ Races". The Key Sponsor of the Race for the years 2004-2006 is Antwerp - the harbor, the City and the region. The new logo of the event now reflects the co-authorship of the STI and the hosts of subsequent legs of the Race.In the year 2006 "The Tall Ships’ Races" will celebrate their 50th birthday, and a year later - for the first time in the history of the event - the grand finale of the Race will take place in Szczecin, Poland.
The Patrons of the Tall Ships' Races 2006 are the King of Spain, Juan Carlos and the President of France, Jacques Chirac. in the year 2007, the Honorary Patrons of the Event are the President of FInland, Tarja Halonen, the successor to the Danish throne, Prince Frederik, and the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech KaczyĹ„ski.
Among the most important cultural and academic events of the 2007 celebrations is the Sixth International Conference of the Melville Society: "The Hearts of Darkness: Melville and Conrad in the Space of World Culture," whose Participants are the Event's revered guests of honor.The Hearts of Darkness Conference, dedicated to problems addressed by the two most important writers-mariners in the history of the Western culture, whose central concern was the human condition and the ethics of human relations, is of particular importance to the Organizers of the Tall Ships’ Races Szczecin 2007. The Conference contributes to the idea of sail training both directly, by opening some of its sessions to the public, and by means of the modern media: a debate between participating Melvilleans and Conradians is planned to be broadcast on the national television TVP. The Co-Chairs of the Conference have been asked to coordinate open air screeenings of Conradian and Melvillean films, to organize public readings of excerpts of Melville’s and Conrad’s works and to offer counsel in the course of the preparation of live performances based on the Authors’ respective oeuvres.
At the same time, it is easy to observe that irrespective of the situation in which the names of Melville or Conrad are mentioned, the sea and the ship are always the implied complement of the discussion. Sea-locked or land-locked, the works of both Authors are heavily indebted to the nautical experiences by which the Weltanschauungs of both writers have been shaped. The Tall Ships’ Races Szczecin 2007 provide a magnificent mise-en-scene for our scholarly debate, and, by involving us in all of the major and supporting events, the Organizers of the most important sailing holiday of the year render our meeting both attractive and complete. Owing to such a cooperation, everyone benefits: supporting one another’s efforts, both Partners gain an important context for what they wish to do.
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