After a rough passage, the fleet assembles in Gibraltar
The first boat to arrive in Gibraltar crossed the finish line off Europa Point in the early hours of Sunday morning. The yacht Taratoo arrived having experienced rough conditions on the leg from Palma de Mallorca. On Friday night all the yachts were sailing in some of the worst conditions many had ever experienced at sea, with winds constantly above thirty knots for several hours, gusting at times up to 60 knots, with short steep fifteen foot seas; lightning flashed all around often striking the water close by.
Several yachts decided to take shelter overnight at various ports before continuing their journeys to Marina Bay, Gibraltar, where the last yacht arrived this morning (Tuesday). Although the sailing conditions were bad the yachts reported few breakages, many of the skippers being pleased they had been able to put their boats to the test before leaving Europe after which repairs become more difficult.
The participants are currently enjoying a full programme in Gibraltar. The highlight of the visit will be a special ceremony this evening to hand over the Millennium Flame to the Bishop of Gibraltar. The crews will process up Gibraltar Main Street, lead by the band of the local Sea Scouts, to Gibraltar Cathedral. There the Millennium Lamp will be handed over to the Bishop of Gibraltar, and the lamps of the yachts that have recently joined the event will be blessed. The Millennium Flame will be kept burning in a specially prepared shrine in the Cathedral until the end of 1999. It will then be transferred to a specially built shrine at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar for the dawn of the new millennium.
After the ceremony the participating crews will be guests at a reception hosted by the Chief Minister and Mrs Caruana at City Hall.
The Gibraltar Tourist Board have hosted the visit of the Millennium Odyssey to Gibraltar as part of their continuing policy to encourage more yachts to visit Gibraltar. Their support has been much appreciated by the crews.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the yachts will leave from a line off the south western end of the runway at 1100, with the help of the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club.