International politics is threatening to spoil part of the Funchal 500 Regatta due to start from Falmouth in September with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs prohibiting the world's largest sail training vessel the Sedov from berthing at UK ports as the political relationship between the Kremlin and Downing Street cools.
It is understood that representatives of the local Funchal 500 organizing committee are contacting the British embassy in order to resolve the situation. Sedov and the barque Mir are two of the Class A ships. In May the Sedov was banned from visiting Southend.
It is not known whether or not the ban applies to the Mir. The company operating voyages on the Sedov said that they intend to embark trainees onboard the ship in Rotterdam from where the ship will sail for Falmouth to be on the start line with other competitors on September 13. Student sailors are already being informed they will have to join in Rotterdam.
The entry list for the race has now closed with an impressive eight Class A ships heading to Falmouth for the first leg of the race to Ilhavo (Port of Aveiro), Portugal (20 - 23 September). From there the Tall Ships will race to Funchal, Madeira for a Maritime Festival and major celebrations in the city (2 - 5 October). The Class A ships are the Alexander von Humboldt, Astrid, Capitan Miranda, Cuahtemoc, Kaliakra, Pogoria, Principe Perfeito and the Shabab Oman.
Relations between the UK and Russia worsened following the death in London of former KGB man Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. On his deathbed Litvinenko accused Russia's Secret Security Services and Vladimir Putin's government was behind the poisoning.
Built in 1921 as the Magdalene Vinnen for FA Vinnen, the Sedov was designed as a cargo carrying cadet ship to run between the West Coast of South America and Europe in the nitrate trade.
The Magdalene Vinnen joined the Australian Grain ship Fleet in 1931 when she was one of 15 ships that loaded grain in the Spencer Gulf for the United Kingdom. She passed Lizard Point on September 14 1931 after an 89 day passage. In 1934 she made a 91 day passage from Port Victoria to Plymouth. And the following year the barque arrived at Falmouth for orders having made a 99 day voyage from Australia.