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In advance of the return of The Tall Ships Races to Waterford in 2011, 20 young people are being offered a unique opportunity to experience life on the ocean and take part in the 2010 Race as a Trainee crew member.

Waterford City Council is offering 20 young people sponsorship of €500 to participate in one of the most exciting legs of this year's race, sailing from Kristiansand in Norway to Hartlepool in the UK. Those interested should contact [email protected] or phone 051 849640 by 15th May 2010. Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. John Halligan said, “We recognise the sail training programme as one of the most important aspects of The Tall Ships Races. Becoming a trainee crew member offers young people an incredible experience and through this sponsorship, Waterford City Council is making it easier than ever before for young people to participate. Supporting the sail training experience is something we are very happy to do and marks our commitment to the event, which will return to Waterford in 2011.”

Young people from over 30 countries will take part in this unique event that combines four days of activities in each port. Becoming a crew member on one of the ships is not only a fantastic adventure, but is also seen as hugely positive in the personal development of those taking part. Being part of the crew involves discipline and hard work, but lifelong friendships are built and the fun had by those on-board makes for an unforgettable and life-changing experience.

The voyage for the 20 successful applicants begins on Friday 30th July, or Saturday 31st July (depending on the vessel chosen by the Trainee) and finishes either on Sunday, 8th August or Monday, 9th August 2010. Applicants for the programme must be at least 18 and no older than 25 years old by 30th June, 2010. No prior sailing experience is required, just a thirst for adventure and willingness to participate in a dedicated and hardworking sail team.

Full fees for the programme are expected to be in the region of €1,000 (of which, €500 will be subsidised) and includes the flight to Norway and return flight from the UK. Those unable to join The Tall Ships Races this year can still apply for one of 100 places available next year, by contacting [email protected].

The Tall Ships Races will bring over 70 Tall Ships and their crews to Waterford in 2011, with over 500,000 people expected to attend the Tall Ships Festival for what will be Ireland’s biggest festival next year. The Tall Ships Races are presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International. Further information is available at www.waterfordtallshipsrace.ie and www.sailtraininginternational.org.

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.