Friday, December 04, 2009

Russian Tall Ship Kruzenshtern To Visit Vancouver During Olympics

The Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern will visit Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. And if all goes according to plan, it will offer half-day cruises to the public for the duration of the Games. On Tuesday the four-masted barque, the second-largest of its kind in the world, weighed anchor from its home port of Kaliningrad and headed for Vancouver carrying the flag of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games organizing committee. The ship, with 120 cadets aboard, is scheduled to arrive at North Vancouver's Burrard Drydock on Feb. 10, according to Rocky Rocksborough-Smith of Triton Marine, the ship's B.C. agent. The ship will be open to public tours two or three days a week, said Roxborough, who is also hoping to obtain a temporary coastal trading license "to allow it to take the public for short cruises" into Howe Sound for a small fee. The use of the ship as a backdrop for the 2014 Olympics is part of an ambitious campaign by Sochi’s organizers to promote the next Winter Olympics after Vancouver. The Russians recently leased Science World at the head of False Creek as their hospitality centre, and they have made several high-profile visits to Vancouver in recent months.
The four-masted sailing ship Kruzenshtern (centre) sailing with other vessels.
"There's no reason for a Russian tall ship to be here in February except for the Olympics, and I can guarantee you it's 100 per cent here for the Sochi delegation," Rocksborough-Smith said. The ship will also act as a hospitality centre for Russian business and sports delegations, he said. "I've been told (Russian premier Vladimir) Putin will be here." The barque, built in Germany in 1926 and given to the Soviet Union in 1946 as part of war reparations, now belongs to the Baltic State Academy. Its visit to Vancouver is part of a six-month training expedition. In an interview with Russian newswire RIA Novosti, Tatyana Babushkina, a ship’s representative in Russia said the vessel will visit Belgium, Spain, Peru, Venezuela, Panama and other countries. At 51.3 metres tall, the Kruzenshtern is one of the the tallest sailing ships in the world and its height will force sailors to bring it into Vancouver's inner harbour at low tide. It will clear its masts under the Lions Gate Bridge by less than 10 metres. "There's no excess amount of room here," Rocksborough-Smith said. "If they pick the wrong tide, the pilot will be picking up the pieces."

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