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Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta Race 5, Report 2: Race Suspended, Towing Help and Crew News

Posted on: 03.08.17

After a good race start yesterday off Halifax the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta race fleet ran into calms early this morning. This weather had been forecasted and with little sign of favourable wind over the next few days, the Race Committee decided to suspend the race at 14:00 UTC and allow the vessels use of engines before restarting through a new start gate some 350 miles to the east (in position 44° 30’N, 055° 00’W). Vessels are expected to pass through the new start gate between 18:00 on Friday until 18:00 on Saturday.

Read on for the latest news and views from Captains and Crews!

CAPTAINS THOUGHTS: a day to demonstrate how the bumble bee flies

Gareth Parker, Captain of Rona II, a UK Class D vessel, shares his thoughts.

“With racing temporarily postponed due to a lack of wind, tactical discussions have taken a different dimension, and in doing so, provided a great example of why the Tall Ships Race and Regattas work.

“It used to be said of the Rona Sailing Project, an organisation running four large sail training yachts and taking hundreds of young people sailing each year, with 400 volunteers but only four full time staff, that it was like a bumble bee – it flew, but no-one could quite work out why.

“Race 5 of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is a serious undertaking, and might be thought of as another bumble bee. Professional yachtsmen and women have run into many serious problems during Transatlantic crossings, yet a fleet of widely differing vessels, large and small, left Halifax yesterday to race across the Atlantic. Some of the vessels have permanent, professional crews, others, like Rona II, are captained and operated by amateurs – admittedly with professional-level qualifications – who take their holiday time and donate it to sail training. The vessels are manned by various groups of teenagers and young people taken from widely differing backgrounds, with little or no sailing experience, yet they follow in the wake of the professionals.

“They got to the start line because one part of a broad team – Sail Training International – have been able to show to another part of the team – the politicians and local businessmen in many cities – the value of sail training to today’s youth, and the value spectacular events like Tall Ships fleet visits bring to local economies. The politicians and businessmen therefore support sail training vessels in various ways, and the vessels’ existence makes such events happen, and both bring new young people the value of a sail training adventure.

“Once at sea, it becomes immediately evident how the bumble bee flies. Race five might be a race, but the levels of help between vessels transcends the competition. With no wind affecting the fleet, larger vessels have donated diesel to smaller vessels to ensure they can reach the new race start line in good time and with appropriate reserves for the Atlantic crossing. One of the smaller vessels, Peter Von Danzig, cannot carry the fuel reserves of larger vessels, so Rona II, the first vessel past, took her under tow. Jolie Brise, hearing the conversation between the two on the radio, added weather analysis to enable a precise analysis of the likely effect of the towing effort on Rona II’s reserves; Gulden Leeuw, some way off but with even larger reserves, then diverted to take over the tow from Rona II.

“Tomorrow we will be under engine again – but the tactical thinking will begin again in earnest. Each vessel can cross the new start line at any point in a 24 hour period from Friday evening until Saturday evening. Start immediately, or delay hoping for the wind to fill in more? A large low moving north across the new race area may add another dimension – go north of it, or south? Stay tuned to Yellow Brick to see the decisions taken in real time!”

2 August 2017

Gulden Leeuw: Second Day at Sea

“The second day at sea ended up both more exciting and calmer than the previous one. More exciting because we have just started hauling a smaller vessel, Peter von Danzig, who doesn’t carry enough fuel to last them a few days – and we are currently expecting to go on motor for two days before the race will resume. But the evening was also much calmer because the trainees have mostly gotten over their sea sickness – even the ones who just 24 hours ago swore that they want to go home were in great spirits today!

“The race has been postponed until we get some better winds. Because of that we’ve spent half of a day taking down the sails and furling them nicely. It made for a good Sail Training opportunity – when the race finally starts again we will be all the more prepared! The watches are large – approx. 15 trainees each – and most of the tasks can be completed within watches. Of course it’s slower, but right now we’re not in a hurry.

“We have started a few activities already: the trainees are preparing a small exhibition with the pictures and names of everyone on the Gulden Leeuw to help us learn each other’s names. They are also almost finished preparing a map of our journey, on which we will write and draw all the exciting things that are happening to us. Like seeing dolphins, who’ve been showing up at odd times all day long, distracting everybody during happy hour and sail handling alike. Nobody really minded though.

“The second day at sea is barely finished but everybody feels right at home now.”

Rona II: Natural disaster struck

“Last night, just hours into her Atlantic adventure, Rona II was struck by a natural disaster. The phenomenon has yet to be precisely identified, with baffled experts variously referring to it as a ‘vomcano’ or ‘vomit comet’.

“At 1855 crew member Louis Janota leapt from his bunk and dashed to the heads whereupon he unleashed a vicious torrent of luminous orange, semi-digested chilli con carni. The liquid’s unusual colour has been attributed to the ‘Tang’ consumed in considerable quantity by the crew just an hour earlier. Mr Janota, 18, has been praised for his presence of mind in securing himself in the heads, preventing much greater damage being done. Nevertheless the disaster took its toll. A visibly shaken George Hopkins, among the first to see the port heads after the event, declared a natural disaster, and stated solemnly that ‘in over 20 years with the Rona Sailing Project I’ve never seen anything like it’, noting that all four walls and even the ceiling were touched by the orange tide. Mr Janota has since made an admirably speedy recovery and is currently fully participating in galley action.

“In other news, at 1100 today the race organisers authorised participants to motor for 400 miles due to light capricious winds. On Friday we will restart, hopefully with more wind! Encountering competitor Peter Von Danzig,a vessel with less fuel on board than Rona II, skipper Gareth Parker offered a tow, which was gratefully accepted.

“With low winds and no sailing Matt Woodcock decided to open his pink dye hair salon with two very keen customers, Matt Robinson and Andy Wright (the mate). Matt was very disappointed with his new look – or lack thereof – however the Mate has found his new style rejuvenating.

“Later in the evening Rona II and Peter Von Danzig rendezvoused with Gulden  Leeuw, to pass over the tow. The sight of people from the opposite sex made all, perhaps especially Angus, increasingly happy.”

rona II: reflections on the parade of sail

“Yesterday morning, Halifax residents became increasingly concerned by reports of a pizza-fueled crowd of boisterous adolescents clad in blue sports tops emblazoned with Weaver birds racing trolley-loads of luggage downhill towards the port. “That level of noise hasn’t been heard in Halifax since the famous explosion of the Mont Blanc in 1917”, exclaimed one excited resident. This statement was confirmed by the Canadian Bureau of Seismology, which confirmed that the tremors from their blood-curdling war cry of “Na na na na, na na na na, Rona, Rona II”, (sung to the tune of “Give It Up” by KC and the Sunshine Band) could be felt in Vancouver.

“Terrified observers have claimed that their war paint takes the form of scary lobster tattoos, with the forearms of one crew member (one Matthew Clark, apparently) covered in no fewer than 20 of the symbols.”


  • The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
  • Angus’ kit weighs three times more than Theo’s. He’s had to split it between four different lockers just to fit it all in.
  • From the skipper and mate: “Does it *really* take half an hour to drop the mizzen?”
  • Bruce the inflatable safety shark has taken his rightful place on the pulpit and maple bacon is amazing!
  • By now most of the crew have seen at least some of their food more than once.

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Banner and feature image: Valery Vasilevskiy.