Amsterdam: Sail

Sail Amsterdam 2015 Set for August

The nautical festival Sail Amsterdam 2015, from Aug. 19 to 23, will host 43 tall ships, including 13 first-timers from around the world. The free event, held every five years in the Netherlands’ capital since 1975, begins with the 7.5-mile-long Sail-In parade, which also features four Dutch Marine vessels, marine training ships from 11 countries, and hundreds of historic ships and replicas, all sailing in line along the North Sea Canal from IJmuiden to Amsterdam.

With the ships in the harbor, a host of events occur there and in several other locations in the city, including classical and jazz concerts, demonstrations by the Dutch Navy and a fireworks display. New this year is the Sail Music Marina, with a stage on the northern bank of the River IJ and a lineup of pop shows. Admission onto the ships and for many concerts is free, while visitors may buy tickets for harbor tours, dinners and other performances and events.

SAIL History

The inaugural edition of SAIL took place in 1975, organised as part of celebrations marking Amsterdam’s 700th jubilee. Entitled ‘SAIL Amsterdam 700’, the event saw ships from all corners of the world invited to moor in Amsterdam. And they were pleased to make the trip! Over the decades, SAIL has evolved from a celebration for Amsterdam into a celebration for everyone! While SAIL Amsterdam has grown into the largest public event in the world, undoubtedly its beating heart remains the Tall Ships, maritime heritage, modern ships, naval vessels and the amazing replicas. In addition to that, visitors can explore the area in and around Amsterdam’s IJhaven, experiencing a vivid programme of cultural events and sporting activities. In 2010, 1.7 million visitors took in the event. Surveyed visitors thought SAIL Amsterdam 2010 was a resounding success, awarding it an overall score of 7.9.

Get set for SAIL Amsterdam 2015
SAIL Amsterdam 2015 returns to Amsterdam’s IJhaven from Wednesday 19 until Sunday 23 August 2015. The theme for 2015 will be announced very soon.

Participating tall ships

Alexander von Humboldt II

Alexander von Humbolt II has been sailing the high seas since 2011. Like its predecessor Alexander von Humbolt, Alex-2 is a civilian squarerigger offering tall ship voyages for everyone, regardless of previous experience.

Alexander von Humboldt II has been built with a traditional barque rigg. That means the fore and main mast carry square sails while the sternmost, the mizzen mast, carries gaff sails. In total, Alex-2 is driven by 24 sails with a sail area of 1.360 m². In favourable wind conditions, she runs up to 14 knots. And if the wind does not blow at all, a 750 horsepower engine helps to reach the next port in time.


While the rigging resembles that of a windjammer built 150 years ago, the safety and rescue equipment of Alexander von Humboldt II is absolutely up to date. Radar, radio and satellite communication, electronic charts, life rafts, two high speed dinghys and many things more make her a modern ship and easy to navigate.

Alex-2 is owned and operated by Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training (German Sail Training Foundation / DSST), based in the barque’s homeport Bremerhaven. DSST is a non-profit, charitable organization. Its aims are to provide traditional high seas sailing for people of all ages, but especially for young men and women aged 15-25.

ARC Gloria

The history of the sailing ship ARC Gloria begins in 1966, when the Colombian Government, by means of Decree Number 111, authorized the National Navy, with Vice Admiral Orlando Lemaitre Torres as its commander, to acquire a three-masted barque as a training ship of the Colombian Navy.

It is said that at that time in many meetings at work or in social events with the military leadership the favorite topic of Admiral Lemaitre was the need for a training ship. His enthusiasm and clear ideas encouraged General Gabriel Reveiz Pizarro, the Colombian Defence Minister, to support the project by taking a napkin and writing on it, “vale por un velero” (“worth one sailboat”) and signing it.

After this strange “pact” a formal contract was signed with the Spanish shipyard Celaya of Bilbao on 6 October 1966, and began to be fulfilled in April 1967. The ship was commissioned on 7 September 1968 with the vessel moored at the wharf of Deusto Channel.


Atyla was launched on May 15, 1984. The engine and the electronic equipment were installed in the estuary of Bilbao within the following weeks. Esteban even had sponsor (Petronor) to found Atyla’s first big adventure circumnavigating the earth. Unfortunately, the oil company canceled the project last-minute, and Esteban and his friends had to find a new plan to fund the schooner. Two years later, the plan was to go to the Caribbean to do sailing trips with tourists. Nevertheless, the plans were once again cut short when the boat got completely looted before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2014 Atyla sailed 20000 km (half the earth’s perimeter) and visited more than 30 cities without leaving the European continent. It was a very challenging project due to the lack of funding but full of good moments, like when she was awarded with the Friendship Trophy on the Black Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2014. Today the vessel sails around Europe dedicated to sail training. Who knows? Maybe one day Rodrigo can fulfil his uncle’s dream, and sail around the whole world aboard Atyla.

Bel Espoir

Many of you will remember The Prince Louis sailing ship, which was used at both our Aberdovey School in Wales and Moray School in Burghead during the 1950’s and 1960’s for training at sea. We are sure that many of you would love to know whatever became of her?…

Well, through one of our alumnus we have just found out that she is now named “Le Bel Espoir” and is used in a very similar way as she was for Outward Bound – as a training initiative for young people. The boat was built in 1944 in Svendborg, in Denmark, by the navy architects Ring Anderson, for the maritime Company A.C. Sorenson. She first beared the name of “Nette S” and was later renamed “Peder Most”. She was designed and fitted for the transportation of cattle between Copenhagen and Hamburg, a duty she carried out for ten years. In 1955, she was given to The Outward Bound Trust and was re-fitted as a school ship for training. Many of you will remember expeditions to sea on the Prince Louis and hopefully have fond memories of the schooner!


She was originally a cargo ship, transporting sugar from the West Indies, cocoa, and coffee from Brazil and French Guiana to Nantes, France. By chance she escaped the eruption of the Mount Pelée in Saint-Pierre de la Martinique on 8 May 1902. All Saint Pierre roads were full of vessels, no place to anchor the ship. Captain Julien Chauvelon angrily decided to anchor some miles further on in a beach – sheltered from the exploding volcano. She was sold in 1914 to Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, who converted her to his private luxurious pleasure yacht, complete with two auxiliary Bolinder Diesel engines 300 HP each.

In 1922 she became the property of the beer baron Sir Arthur Ernest Guinness, who renamed her the Fantôme II (French spelling) and revised the rig from a square rigger. Hon. A.E. Guinness was Rear Commodore of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, in Kingstown, Ireland from 1921-1939. He was Vice Commodore from 1940- 1948. Hon. A.E. Guinness took the Fântome II on a great cruise in 1923 with his daughters Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh. They sailed the seven seas in making a travel round the world via the Panama and Suez Canals including a visit to Spitsbergen. During her approach to Yokohama harbour while sailing the Pacific Ocean the barque managed to escape another catastrophe – an earthquake which destroyed the harbour and parts of Yokohama city. Hon. Arthur E. Guinness died in 1949. The ‘Fantome’ was moored in the roads of Cowes, Isle of Wight.

In 1951 she was sold to the Venezian count Vittorio Cini, who named her the Giorgio Cini after his son, who had died in a plane crash near Cannes on 31 August 1949 . She was rigged to a barkentine and used as a sail training ship until 1965, when she was considered too old for further use and was moored at the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. In 1972 the Italian carabinieri attempted to restore her to the original barque rig. When this proved too expensive, she became the property of the shipyard. In 1976 the ship was re-rigged to a barque.

Finally, in January 1979, she came back to her home port as the Belem under tow by a French seagoing tug, flying the French flag after 65 years. Fully restored to her original condition, she began a new career as a sail training ship.


The elegant Cancalaise is equally capable of taking it easy and dropping anchor. As every salt-sea racer knows, the bisquine, a type of Breton fishing boat, is among the fastest and most prestigious of traditional vessels. It’s the Formula One of old-style fishing!

Built in Cancale in 1987, La Cancalaise is an exact replica of La Perle, the last of the original French sailing and fishing bisquines.

Tres Hombres

The 32 meter schooner Tres Hombres has been sailing since December of 2009. She will maintain a shipping route for transport of cargo between Europe, the Islands in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and America. In addition to her capacity for 35 tons of cargo she has accommodation for a crew of five professional sailors and 10 trainees.

The Tres Hombres carries a full complement of 12 sails, however she has set up to 19 in the calm caribbean crossings. The Tres Hombres began as a Minesweeper – a cutter built in 1943. Rediscovered in Delft in 2007 by the “Tres Hombres”. Her composite hull construction was one of the first to be ‘tank tested’, making her incredibly smooth through the water.


Terra Nova was one of the four major shipyards in Stockholm in the 18th century. It is where the original East Indiaman which came to be called Götheborg was built. She was launched in 1738. Terra Nova was situated where the road Strandvägen now runs. The area had previously been a reeded inlet that was filled in: hence the name Terra Nova, which means ‘new land’ in Latin. Some 200 people worked at the shipyard, half of whom were carpenters. In those days an East Indiaman could be built in just under 18 months. Götheborg reached the Chinese coast in summer of 1744. It was her third voyage. After a six-month trade stop she began her voyage home, but had to wait a full five months in Java for the right winds. The long wait was a strain on the crew. After an adventurous journey home and 30 months at sea, the Swedish coast was finally within sight, and the ship’s cargo holds were cram-full with tea, silk, porcelain, tutanego (zinc), spices and much more.

On 12 September 1745, a pilot came aboard at Vinga. But this didn’t stop the ship sailing into the well-known rock Knipla Hunnebådan, around 900 metres west of Nya Älvsborgs Fästning. The ship was stranded on the rock and began taking in water. Fortunately everyone on board was saved by the boats which came to the rescue. Immediately after the accident and over the next two years, one-third of the cargo was salvaged. Despite the loss of the ship, the costs of salvage and of the unusually long journey, the expedition provided the stakeholders with a return of 17.2 per cent. This was due to the fact that it had been possible to salvage and sell some of the cargo, and because the insurance was paid out. Further salvage operations were carried out during the 19th century, and in the early 20th century extensive new salvage operations were carried out by divers in heavy diving equipment. After that the wreck was left to its fate. Nobody believed there was anything else to salvage.

It’s not easy building an 18th century ship in full 1:1 scale without any of the original drawings. And using the tools, building methods and materials of the 18th century doesn’t make it any easier. And as well as all that, the ship must of course also fulfil modern safety requirements. But crazy dreams sometimes grow wings and take flight. Particularly when there are a great many genuine enthusiasts involved, wonderful inventiveness, kind donations, patient sponsors and a never-ceasing interest from a city and a world longing for wonders. Today the Swedish Ship Götheborg is very much a reality, and the largest sailing wooden ship in the world. Totally unique, and an arena for showing Sweden’s cultural and business life to the world.

Stad Amsterdam

The Clipper Stad Amsterdam has 14 passenger cabins, ready to house two, but which can be altered to accommodate three or four people. During longer journeys, a ships doctor is present, and both the captain and first mate have medical training.

In the nineteenth century, life aboard a clipper was rough. The slim, fast vessels were built for trading non-perishable goods with a high profit margin, such as tea and spices. The ships also transported passengers and post. Competition was severe. To keep the ships profitable in this tough market, crews were cut down in size. Food was often poor, and working conditions harsh. When hoisting sails, all hands formed a line on deck and pulled at the lines. All work on the masts and rigging was manual. Pumps were often manned day and night in order to keep the ever-leaky vessels afloat. Especially when seas were high, or when a ship was poorly maintained, the work was hard.
This age gave birth to the traditional seaman’s shanty. These work songs offered some relief during the heavy labour, and they are still performed by choirs at nautical events to this day.

Trade and the merchant fleet were big stories in the newspapers of their day. In 1872 the world famous tall ship race between the clippers Cutty Sark and Thermopylae took place. The owner of whichever clipper could get a cargo of Chinese tea from Shanghai to London fastest, was entitled to a considerable sum of money. The race was a ‘hot topic’: a large audience followed every step and all the papers covered it. The Cutty Sark lost her rudder in a severe storm, and completed the trip in 122 days. Thermopylae was seven days faster and therefore won the competition.

Alternative things to do in Amsterdam?

There’s a never ending selection of things to do in Amsterdam – so whether you’re visiting for the weekend or for a fortnight, here’s your essential checklist of the best Amsterdam attractions and unmissable experiences in the ‘Venice of the North’.