"For two weeks I had the privilege to sail as a photographer with the Swedish schooner Vega during the Tall Ships Races in 2013 across the Baltic Sea. The tour, for my leg of the trip, went from Stockholm to Helsinki and then to Riga where the actual race began. My objective as I sailed aboard this magnificent wooden ship was to produce some great pictures that could be useful for future marketing. It was love at first sight."
a. Built in Viken 1909
b. Restored 1993 - 2008
c. Tonnage of 148 register tons
d. Width 7,75m
e. Depth 2.7 m
f. Sail area 650 m2
g. Height above the water 27m
h. Main engine. Callesen Diesel 260hk
i. Help Machine. BM Diesel 380 / 220V
j. Guest Cabins 7
k. Beds 14-29
l. Guests 70 (day cruises)
m. Crew 4-7
n. Vega is equipped and staffed according to the Maritime Administration requirements and passenger certificate
Can you tell us the story of how you became involved with Vega?
"It started out as a great coincidence. I happened to walk past the ship in Stockholm, not far from where I live. There was a board saying they needed passengers. The two people on deck at the time turned out to be the owner - the skipper, Egil Bergström and his wife, Kerstin. They were most welcoming in a way that struck me as showing true commitment, letting me know everything there was to know about the history and customs of this particular vessel.
"They also let me know that that this ship (Vega) had been painstakingly restored, on their initiative alone, between 1993 and 2008. Over the years the project turned into a business that involves an entire family over three generations, with their three sons, grandsons and granddaughters helping out. It is a truly remarkable story, especially considering that they have restored another tall ship, the schooner Linnea, as well.
"Because of this, I ended up asking them if I could join as a photographer. I had previously volunteered as one of the official photographers with the full-rigged Swedish ship Götheborg for two summers, and was simply hoping I could deliver some good material and try something new."
In the picture above: Georg Stage of Copenhagen.
What did you know about sail training and The Tall Ships Races before this experience?
"I had visited a few of the tall ships that came to Stockholm in 2007. At the time I did not know there was a global charity organisation behind it all. I must have thought it was the city council that came up with the initiative to attract tourism. Regrettably, I'd had no information about the many opportunities Sail Training International arranges for younger people to get on board. Many of my friends and people I meet still look surprised when I tell them that applications are open for everyone."
What phrases and emotions come to mind when you think about sail training and The Tall Ships Races now?
"I’ve seen people from different countries become best friends and even ending up in relationships thanks to The Tall Ships Races. It definitely is a positive experience. It enables so many young people to get out and experience nature and work together as a team - things that are at the core of humanity and its history. I am also genuinely impressed by the knowledge and commitment that so many skippers, sailors and volunteers are willing to share with new visitors over and over again.
"Without The Tall Ships Races none of this would be possible and a huge chunk of living history would be lost. I often think that sailing these ships is something extraordinary. In other words, I think of it as freedom. If I get another opportunity to do similar photo or film coverage to help share this vision I will certainly jump at the opportunity.
What do you know about the restoration of Vega? Do you feel this was a worthwhile project? Why is this?
"The restoration of Vega is incredible, nothing short of an exceptional achievement for several reasons. As the ship's website itself says:
' ...Vega was built in 1909 in Viken, Sweden. She is one of the last remaining ships from a thousand-year-old tradition of sailing ships that, right up until the middle of the last century, transported merchandise and supplies along our coasts. When these ships lost their economic interest they would have disappeared forever if certain enthusiasts had not realised the importance of preserving and making use of them. Vega was destined to be broken up at Finnboda shipyard in Stockholm in 1985. She was saved at the last minute thanks to Egil Bergström’s desire to pass our cultural heritage on to future generations ... '
Read the full article at http://themasthead.sailtraininginternational.org/march-2015/whos-who/meet-adam-lithner.