Tall Ships are coming again – Port of Turku is participating in the arrangements of the big event of the summer, the Tall Ships Races


Turku will host the Tall Ships Races sailing event from 18–21 July. At present, 64 vessels have signed up for the event. The ships include, for example, the South American beauties three-masted clipper Cisne Branco from Brazil and barque Guayas from Ecuador, the latter coming to Turku for the first time.

The Tall Ships Races are expected to gather a vast audience. When the sailing ships last moored in Turku in 2017, it was the biggest event in Finland that summer with half a million visitors.

“Although the ships will also stop in Helsinki and Mariehamn, the event is something special in Turku. Along the River Aura the vessels are very close to each other, which creates a unique mood”, Antti Pekanheimo, Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Turku, enthuses.

Arrival, mooring and departure of the ships is precisely planned

The Port of Turku’s Operative Department will contribute to the arrangements of the event in many ways.

“We have, for instance, planned a berth for each ship on the River Aura. In addition, to ensure undisturbed sailing on the river, we have determined the precise order of arrival and departure for the vessels.”

During the Tall Ships Races, the Port’s Operative Department will look after, for example, the water supply to the vessels, draining of wastewater, and other waste management.

Arrangements involve authorities and volunteers

Mr Pekanheimo also acts as the chairman of the maritime and safety section of the event.

“The section comprises of key safety authorities as well as volunteers, including e.g. Customs, Border Guard, police, Traficom, rescue services, and emergency health care services. And of course, the security manager of the event and representative of the Finnish Lifeboat Institution.”

Mr Pekanheimo’s duties also include informing the captains of the vessels on what they need to take into account on arrival in Turku.

“I will compile a handbook for the captains with directions for arrival in Turku. In addition, it will provide directions on how to act in berth and include the full programme of the event.”

Exciting moments coming up

The Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Turku participates in the arrangements of the Tall Ships Races for the fourth time.

“The moment when the first great sails emerge on the horizon is always equally exciting. But it also feels good when the ships are departing, a major project is over and everyone is happy – the audience, event organisers and the vessel crew have had a great experience.”

He contemplates that the event gives Turku and the Port an excellent opportunity to tell about the city and the tourism potential it has to offer.

“The Tall Ships Races are above all a great event for the whole family. And this year it extends over an even larger area. The event area near the mouth of the River Aura will be opened to the public already two days before the official opening of the event itself. In addition, a two-day music festival named Slot Festival will be arranged in the Turku Castle Park”, Mr Pekanheimo reminds.


Text: Matti Välimäki
Photos: Jouni Saaristo and Markku Koivumäki

Rio ahoy!

Old three-masted brig is loaded with romance. It makes you think of exotic ports, a deckhand climbing up to the crow’s nest with shaking knees, and an old salt with a parrot sitting on his shoulder, spitting out curse words…

Has the Chief Operating Officer of the Port ever come to think what it would feel like if the tall ships were there to enliven his working days constantly and not just in connection with big regattas?

“A fun idea. It would surely have its upsides. Sailing ships are also very ecological vessels. Unfortunately, they are not quite up to the requirements of modern logistics, when it comes to, for example, speed and the cargo volume”, Mr Pekanheimo contemplates.

He adds that the era of sailing ships is not completely over in merchant shipping.

“Out on the ocean, with favourable wind conditions, even modern ships may use sails as auxiliary power now and in the future.”