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To Spain and Back

Posted by Tall Ships America on November 24, 2014

Waterfront2

A few weeks ago, Lori, Bert and I had the very exciting privilege to attend Sail Training International’s annual conference in A Coruña, a cosmopolitan port city in the northwest of Spain on the Atlantic Coast.  It was a bit of a slog to get there – drive three hours to JFK, red-eye to Madrid and then another hour and a half flight to A Coruña. But it was totally worth it for these views –

Into A Coruna

Into A Coruna

…And the chance to catch up with friends from across the pond whom we get to see all too infrequently.  This year’s STI conference was attended by about 300 people from all over the world. I quit complaining about our long flight after chatting with Murray from Australia whose initial flight alone was 23 hours. New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and Canada were represented, while the remaining the attendees were from Europe. It was a great mix of young and old sail trainers. Session topics ranged from how to recruit trainees to satellite navigation and weather. Videos of all the sessions are available on the Sail Training International website.

We arrived in A Coruña to a windy, sunny day, perfect for a brisk walk along the waterfront and get a feel for the city. I went on a walkabout and took some pictures while trying not to get blown away. The wind whips into A Coruña and, in fact, the city is known for their glazed window balconies (galerías) which were built for the adverse weather coming off the ocean. I was able to see a few pretty plazas but, alas, I did not get to the Tower of Hercules. Next time!

Maria Pita Square

Maria Pita Square

That first night, Thursday, conference attendees were generously hosted at a Host Ports Welcome Reception at the Aquarium Finisterrae.  There is something to be said about nibbling on a piece of jamon, sipping on a local wine, and watching this guy swim around –

Shark!

Friday and Saturday were filled with sessions, networking and long lunches. Friday night, the American contingent, including friends from Sound Experience, LA Maritime Institute, SEA, and our Board of Directors, ventured out into the city and had a fantastic meal of seafood and tapas. Saturday night was the final party, a Gala Dinner sponsored by the City of Quebec, a host port for the Rendez-vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. Dinner, dancing, and a special performance by the mayor of Klaipeda who plays a mean trumpet and did a rousing rendition of (What a) Wonderful World to kick off the late night festivities.

What a wonderful world

All too soon, it was time to get back on the plane and fly back to our siesta-free country, and ham flavored Ruffles were just a sweet memory (they tasted like BBQ). Thank you, Sail Training International! We can’t wait to host our joint conference with you in 2016 in Quebec City!

For more photos from the conference, visit our Flickr album and visit STI’s album on Facebook.

American contingent

 

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