SAIL Amsterdam

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SAIL Amsterdam in 2005

SAIL Amsterdam is a quinquennial maritime event in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Tall ships from all over the world visit the city to moor in its eastern harbour, and people can then visit the ships.[1]


The Stad Amsterdam, the flagship of SAIL Amsterdam 2010

The event was organised for the first time in 1975 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Amsterdam, under the name 'Sail Amsterdam 700'. At that time, interest in tall ships, which had sunk to a low since the 1930s when the last commercial tall ships had been built, was starting to rise[citation needed]. The success of Sail Amsterdam 700 led to the establishment of the Stichting Sail Amsterdam (SSA, Foundation Sail Amsterdam).

Sail is one of the largest maritime manifestations in the world, and the largest event of any kind in the Netherlands. Tens of tall ships and hundreds of other historical ships are involved. Numerous other ships and boats are present besides the participating ships, amounting to 8000 boats in the 2000 edition.

Lesser events take place during the festival, involving small sailboats, sailor choirs or re-enactments of naval battles. The Sail In or Parade of Sail on the first day attracts many other small ships, including creations like a sailing organ (with trumpet accompaniment) or a train converted to a ship. On the next to last day there is a naval pageant and on the last day the 'Sail Out'.

2005 edition[edit]

The Amerigo Vespucci during Sail 2005
Chaos on the water during the Sail-in of 2005

SAIL Amsterdam 2005 was held from 17 to 22 August, the 7th edition of the festival. The event was expected to attract 2 to 3 million visitors. The number of tall ships depends on the definition, but figures vary from 21 (the official figure) to over 50 (those with at least 3 masts). Other historical ships number around 600. There were also several ship replicas (either real sailing ships or fakes that have to be towed), hundreds of classical sail- and steamships ('het Nationaal Varend Erfgoed' - the Sailing National Heritage) and some modern marine ships. New that year were several modern yachts and a submarine, the Hr Ms Zeeleeuw.

The tall ships were moored in the IJhaven (IJ harbour) and in Amsterdam North (across 't IJ) and the Varend Erfgoed boats were moored in the Oosterdok nearby, where one can also find the Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum (a maritime museum) with its (fake) replica of a Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship, which is permanently moored there. Absent was another Dutch replica of a VOC ship (a 'real' seaworthy replica), the Batavia, with its home port in Lelystad, not too far from Amsterdam.

Early morning overview of tall ships

The main ships, in the order of the official walking-route were (with length and Nation of origin):

A so-called 'Pieremachochel', the Prins Willem

Smaller events included an exposition of yacht building in the newly built Muziekgebouw ('music building'), many music stages, food from all corners of the Earth, fireworks every night at 10 o'clock, a parade of sailors in uniform and the 'Pieremachocheltocht' (even the organisation isn't sure what the word means), a parade of carnavalesque floating creations (open to anyone).

Costs of the event were around €7.5 million. Direct financial benefits are from sponsoring, catering and sales of souvenirs.

This year's three themes were the maritime link between past, present and future, the connection of worlds and cultures and youth, with the binding motto 'Enjoy a world of friendships' (in English - the pun doesn't work in Dutch).

On the first day, the ships gather in the locks at IJmuiden for the Sail In or Parade of Sail through the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam, led by the event's flagship. In 2005 that was the Stad Amsterdam, which was supposed to reach Amsterdam first, but she ran aground (allegedly the fact that the Dutch crown prince Willem Alexander was at the helm had nothing to do with that), so the Statsraad Lehmkuhl came in first (it's not a contest, though). Amsterdam's harbour is known to be very shallow (a centuries old problem) and the Stad Amsterdam is a 'deep' ship. But luckily the ground is also very soggy, so there is not likely to have been any damage.

In 2005, Sail Bremerhaven was held one week before SAIL Amsterdam (10–14 August) and it was decided to make that a five-yearly event as well, which will be convenient for the ships since they are already in the neighbourhood.

SAIL Amsterdam 2005 logo contest was won by Lamouri Merouane. A former student of a design school in Amsterdam (Grafisch Lyceum Amsterdam) He is originally from Algeria (Algiers). His logo was finally chosen and used through the entire event.

2010 edition[edit]

Welcome to Sail Amsterdam

SAIL Amsterdam 2010 was held from 19 August until 23 August that year.

2015 edition[edit]

SAIL Amsterdam 2015 was held from 19 August to 23 August 2015.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]