It was a spectacle on the Clyde like no other I had witnessed, and ended up with some great weather to go with it – the Tall Ships Race called in to Greenock, Scotland from 9-12 July 2011 where as many as 57 ships gathered representing 14 nations.
The Tall Ships Race is an annual event that takes place at various ports of call around Europe, with two long racing legs interspersed with some cruising. The race had last visited Scotland in 1999, but as I had been living in the US at the time, I missed it on that occasion.
In 2011 the event departed Waterford (Ireland) bound for Greenock (Scotland) before heading on to Lerwick (Shetland, Scotland), across to Stavanger (Norway) before finishing in Halmstad (Sweden).
The ships were due to depart Greenock on Tuesday 12 July 2011 in what is called a “parade of sail” which was to include a display by the Red Arrows. We set out by sea kayak with greyish cloudy skies and paddled over to Greenock from the Holy Loch in Cowal in order to catch the tall ships as they departed Greenock for Lerwick in Shetland.
On the way across from Cowal to Greenock we witnessed the Red Arrows passing overhead as they conducted a display in the distance over the esplanade in Greenock.
We arrived early afternoon at Greenock and encountered what turned out to be very busy waters for the next few hours as many yachts and other small (and some larger) powered water craft made their way there to observe and be part of the occasion too.
Even a cruise ship called ‘Europa’ was departing on the same day. The PS Waverley was out with passengers sightseeing too.
By early afternoon, the tall ships were off. There was a steady stream of them, one after another, many with their sails on display as they left port. The skies brightened, the sun came out and the wind dropped. Conditions for viewing could not have been better.
One by one they sailed by in fairly close proximity to other watercraft around them. It felt great to have the low vantage point of being in a sea kayak as each tall ship passed by.
For anyone interested the Tall Ships 2011 Race Results are available here.
Today, several years on from this amazing event and a unique viewing perspecive from my kayak, I find myself looking back and appreciating the spectacle and hoping it will return again some day soon. With its rich heritage of sailing, the river Clyde is a fitting host to these beautiful tall ships.
Event pictures are all attached in the gallery below as black and white and colour versions.
Note: All images are COPYRIGHT © Alan G Forsyth Photography. Any use of these images is subject to the approval of the copyright owner. Please use the contact page to make any enquiry before use.
Tall Ships Race 2011, Greenock, Scotland – Parade of Sail (black and white)
Tall Ships Race 2011, Greenock, Scotland – Parade of Sail (colour)