Bordeaux’s Reconquest of the River
A look back at the first grand event organised by Bordeaux to recapture the magic of its river: the Cutty Sark Tall Ships race of July 1990
For many, the reconquest of the ri
ver began not in 2000 with the first River Festival, but in July 1990, when the city hosted a stage in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships sailing race. It was a remarkable event because the city rarely saw ships of this kind anymore. People lined up along the shores of the estuary and gazed in wonder at the procession. Fourteen nations participated, with 83 sailboats — and 79 that raced!
From July 20-25, the ships moored in Bordeaux, with the foreign crews hosting tours of the boats. The magnificent four-mast Kruzensetern from the Soviet Union, the 92-meter schooner Esmeralda from Chile, the Sir Winston Churchill, and the oldest ship, the three-mast, 19th-century Belem. Of course it wasn’t just giant ships that arrived that day — there were dozens of smaller ships — yawls, cutters, ketches and sloops — all unique and full of character.