Sailors from 41 nations received an open top bus welcome at the 2017 World Cup Series Final opening ceremony in Santander, Spain.
Flag bearers from each nation waved their flags around the city of Santander before arriving to a rapturous welcome from the gathering crowd outside the Festival Palace and High Performance Sailing Centre, the CEAR Principe Felipe.
The biggest welcome of the evening came when local sailor and Rio 2016 Olympian Diego Botin took to the stage with the Spanish flag. A sea of red and yellow ticker tape filled the air, much to the delight of the home crowd.
In 2014, Santander came alive when the Sailing World Championships were held in the city. The atmosphere created just under three years ago is as strong now as it was then with a waterfront festival and daily entertainment planned for the week of World Cup Final racing.
World Sailing Vice-President Scott Perry attended the opening ceremony. Addressing the crowd, Perry recalled the last time Santander hosted World Sailing, ‘In 2014, the city hosted a memorable World Championships where more than 400,000 spectators watched the heroes of our sport fight for world titles.
‘The legacy and the atmosphere of the 2014 World Championships live long in the memory of World Sailing. We are pleased to be back here for the final of the series that has seen excellent competition in the qualification rounds in USA and France this year.
‘The organising committee have done an outstanding job in preparing Santander to host more than 250 sailors from 41 nations for six days of racing. Amongst the entrants are Olympic medallists and sailors with World Championship and World Cup honours to their name.
‘The sailors that you will see here this week are the stars of our sport. I look forward to following the competition and I hope you have an unforgettable experience in Santander.”
Further speeches were given by Julia Casanueva, President of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Jaime González, President of the Port Authority, Jame Yllera, President of the Real Club Marítimo de Santander, Ramón Ruiz, Counselor of Education, Culture and Sport of the Government of Cantabria and Mayor of Santander, Gema Igual Alcaldesa.
In advance of the opening ceremony, sailors spent the day preparing for the week of competition. Registration, equipment inspection, boat configuration and practice sailing was on the agenda
Sailors will continue to fine tune on Monday 5 June in advance of the first warning signal that will be sounded at 12:00 local time on Tuesday 6 June.
A week of fleet racing will culminate in the Live Medal Races on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June.
by Daniel Smith