Tall ships are the ultimate symbols of seafaring romance, inspiring enthusiasm in maritime fans of all ages. Four of these majestic ships will come to Hamburg for the 830th Hamburg Port Anniversary from 10 to 12 May – Alexander von Humboldt II, Kruzenshtern, Sedov and Mir. They will participate in the grand arrival and departure parades in the heart of the city, on the Friday and Sunday respectively, and invite visitors to look around on board. Alongside these amazing tall ships, the Hamburg Port Anniversary will be a meeting place for some 300 vessels of all kinds, including many classic sailing vessels that will also be open to visitors.
Germany’s first female captain on a tall ship
The Alexander von Humboldt II is currently Germany’s largest operational sail training ship, with length overall 66 metres. She is a three-masted barque, launched in Bremen in 2011 as the successor to Alexander von Humboldt, and belongs to the non-profit foundation Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training. She has a regular crew of 25, and provides places for up to 55 trainees, who pay for the trip and to learn the fundamental skills of sailing. All of them, from trainees to helmsman, will be under the command of Maren Reif, Germany’s first female captain of a tall ship.
Maren Reif was a trainee on the Alexander von Humboldt for the first time in 2003. That was a life-changing experience for her – “the trip from Travemünde through the Bay of Biscay to Lisbon was so exciting that I then decided to give up my job as a communication designer and took up nautical studies,” she explains. After completing her studies, Maren Reif joined a Hamburg shipping company, obtained her sea captain’s licence, and works as a maritime inspector today.
The regular crew is made up of volunteers
Ever since qualifying as an ordinary seaman in 2004, Maren Reif has been a regular crew member on the tall ship, and since 2011 she continued on the successor vessel Alexander von Humboldt II, gaining experience in almost every position up to that of captain. “In sailing it is not so much a question of the destination, but rather the way to get there, and cooperation among the crew,” she explains. The regular crew members on the Alexander von Humboldt II do not get paid. “All of us in the regular crew are volunteers, and work for our passage. Most of us even take holidays to enable us to work on board.”
Maren Reif has chosen Hamburg as her home, and is specially pleased to come to her first Hamburg Port Anniversary as Captain of the Alexander von Humboldt II – “It is a great feeling to be part of this fantastic event, and to welcome so many interested visitors on board. It makes you aware of the close links between the people of Hamburg and their port. And it is a good opportunity to show my family, friends and colleagues around the ship. This is practically my second home,” says Maren Reif. Her personal programme highlight at the world’s greatest port festival is the tugboat ballet. “From our berth, we have a full view of the dancing tug boats. That’s really spectacular. And I’m looking forward to my first Captains Dinner on board the Rickmer Rickmers.”
The most beautiful tall ship – Kruzenshtern
Alongside Alexander von Humboldt II, three Russian tall ships will be present at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. Kruzenshtern is the last of the Flying-P liners of the Hamburg company F. Laeisz still in operation. She is regarded as the world’s most beautiful tall ship, with her characteristic black-and-white hull markings. This four-masted barque was launched in Bremerhaven in 1926 as Padua, and carried cargoes to South America and Australia. After the Second World War, she was surrendered to the USSR as war reparation, and renamed Kruzenshtern. Today the 114-metre traditional sailing ship is used by the Russian Ministry of Fisheries to train crews for the fishing fleet.
The longest tall ship – Sedov
With length overall 117 metres, Sedov is the world’s longest traditional sailing ship still in operation. This four-masted barque was launched at the Krupp-Germania shipyard in Kiel in 1921, under the name Magdalene Vinnen II. At the end of 1945 she was likewise surrendered to the USSR as reparation, and has been in service with the Soviet and subsequently the Russian Navy as a sail training ship for cadets. Since 2017 she has been owned by the Kaliningrad State Technical University. In 2005 Sedov was used for a major TV drama “The Loss of the Pamir”. Her white bow was painted black specially for the film.
The biggest tall ship – Mir
Mir earned her reputation as the world’s fastest tall ship in numerous tall ship races, particularly in the 1990s. The 108-metre three-masted, full-rigged ship was built at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk in 1987. She is owned by the Admiral Makarow State Maritime Academy in Saint Petersburg, which operates Mir as its main sail training vessel for the Russian merchant navy. Mir has for many years been a regular guest at the world’s greatest port festival.