2002 was the 30th anniversary of the Cutty Sark Tall Ship’s Race. It is one of the most important annual sailing events in the world. Held every year in July and August, each time the race follows a different itinerary in the various seas of Europe and is planned four years ahead.
The competition combines races and an accompanied cruise – in 2002 the cruise followed the orange route from La Coruna to Santander. Four days of activities were scheduled at each port, where thousands of visitors came to join in and watch. Every year about 80 ships participate with more than 3,000 crew members. Vessels resembling those of yore – schooners, barquentines, sloops, ketches, yawls etc. – come from twenty different European countries.
The Spirit of the Race
The goal of the race is to foster international friendship and understanding among young people from different coutries and cultures. For this reason the Cutty Sark Award is not given to the fastest ship, but rather to the ship that has done the most to fulfil this primary goal. The final decision to which ship is the winner is made by the crewmembers in consultation with their captain. Criteria include the ship that works best as a team, contribution to understanding among races and cultures and promotion of friendship among participants.
In addition, these young people are given the opportunity to live out an unforgettable experience where they learn how to work as a team, take on responsibilities and impose discipline. The work philosophy is based on ‘systems of vigilance’ in which each captain divides the crew into three groups working four hour shifts. The crew must participate in all tasks from preparing food and cleaning the ship to climbing the mast to set up the sails. Attracted by the sea and a spirit of adventure, approximately 100,000 people have undergone this experience.
2002 – A Spanish Flavour
In 2002 the event was special to Spain for a number of reasons. Four of the six ports along the route were Spanish – Alicante, Malaga, La Coruna and Santander. Also, the president of the committee of honour was King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
Unusually, in this year the race had two starting points. Starting from the port of Alicante on the Costa Blanca, the Mediterranean Fleet sailed until it reached Malaga, then continued to La Coruna where it met up with the Northern Fleet which had started at the French city of Brest. The combined fleet then travelled to Santander and on to Portsmouth where the race finished and the trophy was awarded.
The trophy is a silver reproduction of the famous Scottish clipper Cutty Sark. The last time the trophy was brought to Spain was in 1994 when the Spanish ship ‘Marineda’ was voted the winner.