The Tall Ships Races is the world’s largest international open ocean regatta. On June 30th the race starts in Halmstad and on their way to the final port of Szczecin, Poland, the ships make port in Kotka and Turku, Finland, and Klaipeda, Lithuania. In every port a great festival takes place on the quay, with cultural and sporting activities.
The main purpose of the race is to create and maintain contacts between youths from different countries and background. The crews on the ships must contain of at least 50% youths, 15 to 25 years old, so called trainees. Many of the trainees have little to none experience of sailing, and about 3000 to 4000 youths participate every year.
The ships are divided into classes from A to D. In every class, the three fastest ships receive a prize. The most prestigious prize however, is given to the ship whose crew has shown greatest camaraderie and has established the best international contacts. The winner is decided by a vote among the crews of the ships.
Sail Training International, STI arranges The Tall Ships Races. STI is a non-profit organization based in Gosport, England. Twenty-five countries are members, and the organization is not affiliated with any political or religious movements.