Sailing tall: Statsraad Lehmkuhl wins Tall Ship Races

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas After two months at sea, the tall ship returned to Bergen with the mayor of the city, Marte Mjøs Pedersen, hanging from the mast, singing and celebrating the victory.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas
After two months at sea, the tall ship returned to Bergen with the mayor of the city, Marte Mjøs Pedersen, hanging from the mast, singing and celebrating the victory.

Cathrine Løvaas
Bergen, Norway

Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a three-masted steel barque built by Johann C. Tecklenborg AG in Bremerhaven Geestemünde in 1914 as a training ship for the German merchant fleet under the name Grossherzog Friedrich August. During most of the First World War, the ship was used as a stationary training ship in Germany before it was seized by the British.

At the initiative of former minister Kristoffer Lehmkuhl, the Norwegian Ship Owners’ Association bought the ship for approximately 300,000 kroner in 1923. As an expression of acknowledgment towards Lehmkuhl’s work promoting the training ship and its case in Norway, as well as his efforts in establishing Norwegian independence in 1905, the ship was renamed Statsraad Lehmkuhl.

Tall ship race
This summer the ship participated in the Tall Ship Races, an international sail regatta hosted by Sail Training International. Statsraad Lehmkuhl won the first leg from Antwerp to Lisbon and the second leg from Lisbon to Cádiz. In the third leg from Cádiz to Coruña, she came in as number three in a very demanding leg. All together she won the race.

It was the ship’s two captains—Marcus Seidl and Jens Joachim Hiort—and their crew that took her all the way to victory.

Marcus Seidl has been a captain on the ship for over twenty years, while Jens Joachim Hiort came in as co-captain in March of this year. In spite of his young age of 38 years, Captain Hiort has been a captain on the Christian Radich ship since 2011 and was earlier a seaman on Statsraad Lehmkuhl. He is highly respected in the international sailing community.

The ship is considered a floating ambassador for the city of Bergen and for Norway as a whole. Worldwide she’s the training ship that gives the highest number of young people the opportunity to improve their sailing skills and give them a sense of empowerment.

Several trophies
The tall ship has previously won several regattas and has received the Boston Tea Pot Trophy, which is awarded to the ship that travels the most nautical miles within a 124-hour period in a given year. In the period between November 27 and December 3, 2009, Statsraad Lehmkuhl traveled a distance of 1450 nautical miles, between Halifax and Belfast, which is the longest distance registered since the Boston Tea Pot Trophy was given for the first time. The record was earlier held by the Japanese ship Kaiwo Maru, which traveled 1394 nautical miles in 1995.

The homecoming
On August 12, an award and ending ceremony was held in Coruña. After the ceremonies, the ship continued on an expedition to Dublin on August 15 and returned to Norway on the 21st. She entered Bergen harbor with singing sailors in the masts on August 26.

On the day of the homecoming, it rained like it tends to do in Bergen, and raincoat-clad people with umbrellas welcomed the ship home. With singing sailors in the masts, Statsraad Lehmkuhl came gliding in to the harbor, where the mayor of Bergen Marte Mjøs Pedersen celebrated the champions. The mayor herself sailed with the ship on the last leg from Dublin to Bergen and even joined the sailors in the mast when the ship docked in Bergen.

“The first stage was enough. I’m not that tough,” she said. “It was an amazing experience, a great crew. I’ve been scrubbing tires and stood at the helm. I’ve had a blast.”

Cathrine Løvaas (41) is a Norwegian freelancer from Bergen, Norway. She has a BA in History from Nord Universitet and writes about history, culture, sports, health, safety and environment, cats, and contract law. She runs a company that takes care of pets, and she loves weightlifting, photography, and literature. Meet her at www.norwegianfreelance.no and www.pusepass.no.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 23, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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