An overcast sky and fog looming over Lunenburg harbour could not put a damper on the spirits of visitors, dignitaries and athletes at the official opening ceremonies for the Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships, on Friday evening.
The event, which featured musical accompaniment from the Riverport and Area Community Choir, kicked off with the procession of athletes to the Bluenose Wharf.
In a scene reminiscent of the Olympics, more than 200 young sailors and coaches from 31 different countries marched in, under their respective national banners, as they were announced.
The size of the teams ranged from 11-member groups from international powers such as the United States, Great Britain and France, to small but sturdy two-member contingents from Singapore, Ireland, Greece and the Czech Republic.
When the athletes and coaches had settled in, a series of guest speakers addressed the sizable and enthusiastic crowd that had assembled along the waterfront.
South Shore MP Gerald Keddy took to the podium and assured the sailors there was no better place to host the event than the waters off of the Lunenburg Yacht Club.
|The official opening celebrations for the 2002 ISAF World Youth Sailing Championships included a "Mixing of the Waters' ceremony, during which a representative from each of the 31 competing nations poured a sample of water from their home country into the salty brine of Lunenburg harbour, from the deck of the Bluenose II. Patrick Hirtle photo.|
"We are blessed with the best sailing areas in Eastern Canada," he said, adding that it is sure to be a memorable championships, and that there will always be a warm smile and a hearty hello waiting, should the young visitors someday return.
Lunenburg MLA Michael Baker exclaimed it was a pleasure to welcome such a large group of athletes to his hometown and encouraged them all to enjoy the competitive spirit of the event, as well as the acquisition of valuable lessons and friendships that will last a lifetime.
The mayor of Lunenburg, Rev. Lawrence Mawhinney, said he hoped the visitors get a chance to experience "some of the things that make Lunenburg the special place we believe it to be."
Mr. Mawhinney also gave the young sailors a special "Maritime" send off, saying, "May the wind fill your sails; may the memories and experiences fill your hearts."
In addition to local dignitaries, other guests, such as Fiona Kidd, who is serving as president of the Canadian Yachting Association and Paul Henderson, who is president of the International Sailing Federation, addressed the crowd and praised both the athletes and the organizing committee.
Two special highlights of the night included the "Mixing of the Waters" ceremony, which saw a representative from each of the participating countries pour a sample of water from their homeland over the hull of the Bluenose II, and into Lunenburg harbour.
In recent years, the Mixing of the Waters has become a traditional part of the World Youth Sailing opening ceremonies, as a symbol of both international co-operation and sportsmanship.
Finally, to conclude the event, Bluenose II captain Philip Watson and original Bluenose crewman Clem Hiltz jointly raised the ISAF flag over the gathering atop the Bluenose II, at Mr. Henderson's word, to open the 2002 World Youth Sailing Championships officially.
|July 24, 2002|
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