To me, it seems they never left. Forests of masts, rigging and flags clad the island every summer, and yet the only town hosted some of the world's most beautiful crafts and courageous crews from 21 till 25 July. To witness their arrival in the Bressay Sound and then alongside quays and wharves was emotional enough... To hear the myriad of languages, eyes, smiles and joie de vivre was a different kettle of fish!
We, island folk, put all our hearts in welcoming some 53 ships and endeavoured to live to everyone's expectations. We may be a small community, however, we are accustomed to world events. Lerwick rekindled its own glorious past with so many tall masts visible from the the other side of the town... An early arrival at the carpark by Market House did not guarantee space... An army of devoted liaison officers were already at work wherever they had to be. Key buildings were turned into Headquarters for crews, captains or the media. Each day began with a briefing. Each day defined new adventures!
And then the world began to smile.
Locals, visitors and participants. So many faces all around! Shetland Showcase unveiled the very best of islands' art & crafts; food stalls alongside Alexandra Wharf unveiled world tastes for everyone. Ships open to the visitor; all felt like kids in a toy shop! The Crew Parade from Victoria Pier to Holmsgarth added colours and animated many hearts.
And colours were needed as skies darkened with a biting north wind. A depression over Denmark even delayed the Parade of Sail and start of Race 2 (Lerwick-Stavanger) by 24 hours. However, we all held to the helm and extended that world famous sense of hospitality. Artists returned another 24 hours on stage, craftsmen back to their booths, traders back to their stalls, liaison officers, guides and all other volunteers back to their respective duties! The atmosphere remained intact till the end of The Parade of Sail.
Project Manager Fiona Dally and her Team can be proud of their achievement.
I shall never forget those five days of magic.
So many cultures inside one harbour; you may think it's normal... I do!
So many smiles - humanity on one island,
the true spirit of Sail Training International!