Race of the Classics: Departing Rotterdam By Tall Ship

Just about one year ago—sandwiched between day after day of grey skies, intermittent rain and temps barely above the low 40s—the sun came out in Rotterdam. This turned out to be the warmest and brightest day of my six week stay.

So with just three layers on top, and two on the bottom (mind you, the morning was still cold and cycling toward the old downtown usually meant heading into the wind), I backed the bike out the hallway and onto the outdoor third floor landing, into the elevator, out the lobby and pointed right, past the small waterway with its riot of daffodils, then another right to aside a main auto thoroughfare.

Twenty-five minutes into the ride and I’ve reached the Nieuwe Maas waterside aside Westerkade. With the weather so pleasant there are plenty of people outside, and up ahead is a crowd plus several tall masts. What luck. I’ve chanced many large old steel wooden hull boats crammed into the small Veerhaven (harbor area) festooned with banners. Tomorrow is day one of the annual Race of the Classics.

About Race of the Classics, April 2 – 8, 2017
Thought up more than 25 years ago by two sailing enthusiasts from the Amsterdamse Academie, this race celebrates the art of sailing at an amateur level. The Race of the Classics is one of the world's largest sailing events for young people of the Netherlands, with roughly 500 taking the 200-mile journey on the North Sea, starting in the Veerhaven in Rotterdam, to a port in Belgium or the Netherlands, on to England, and finally a week later returning to Amsterdam via IJmuiden. All sail aboard classic wooden tall ships and sailboats, including Abel Tasman, Artemis and Pedro Doncker. Companies such as Shell, ABN AMRO, AkzoNobel and Philips support this event

...and of course I get stuck on the other side of a canal drawbridge
Heading down the Nieuwe Maas toward Hook of Holland at the start of day one Race o the Classics.

Heading down the Nieuwe Maas toward Hook of Holland at the start of day one Race o the Classics.

Monday morning and the weather is back to normal, but with darker than every skies and spates of driving rain. The cycle ride back to the harbor to watch the race start is far from pleasant, and of course I get stuck on the other side of a canal drawbridge. I am now bumping along over the cobblestone area near the water. I see boats floating down the Nieuwe Maas, with the Erasmus Bridge behind them. They'll travel 30km to reach the North Sea at the Hook of Holland.

Hope off bike, lock it, fiddle with camera. Not much opportunity to place two boats in the frame, so I aim for artsy and try to include texture showing the Holland Amerika Lijn Hotel New York or the modern cruise terminal in the background. Somewhat obstructing much of my photo view is a long vessel staffed by maritime workers, one of whom has a camera. I think he eventually realized I was framing shots of him. To grab more shots, I followed the fleet for about a mile and a half—zig zagging on and off urban parking lots and public cycle access paths.

View Renegade Sailing 2016 Race of the Classics photos. To follow the race, visit Facebook page or follow the live feed at rotcyp.nl.