An Invitation to the European Odyssey from Jimmy Cornell

Every summer hundreds of boats from Northern Europe head south, some bound for the Mediterranean, others for the Canaries and beyond. Soon after I launched the ARC in 1986 I drew up plans for a rally aimed at those sailors, but the Nor’South Rally never passed the planning stage and was shelved.

In the meantime it is now estimated that the number of North European boats heading south has doubled. Thus the original Nor’South Rally was finally launched this year as the European Odyssey.

eo-mapThe aim has remained the same, to offer North European sailors the opportunity to sail south together in an organized event which provides not only a framework for social contacts and camaraderie, but also the chance to visit some of the most interesting ports en route.

Furthermore, as the rally takes place at the height of the summer season, all logistical arrangements are taken care of by the organizers, with reserved docking in all marinas, all such fees being included in a reasonable entry fee.

Soon after the rally was launched, I drove to all places along the route to ensure that the arrangements were going to be in place for the arrival of the European Odyssey fleet. I also discussed with the local authorities an attractive programme of activities during the rally’s stay.


Hamburg City Marina

City Sporthafen (Hamburg Marina)


Logistics meeting in Hamburg, from left to right: Volker Andreae, Commodore German Offshore Club, Andreas Völker, President Hamburg Sailing Association, Eduard von Allwörden, Chairman City Sporthafen (Hamburg Marina), Harald Harmstorf, Honorary member Hamburg Sailing Association, Jimmy Cornell, Klaus Hympendahl, Event Manager Cornell Sailing.

The European Odyssey will be the first sailing event in modern times to link Hamburg to one of its earliest hanseatic outposts, established in the City of London over seven centuries ago. For the days before the start the European Odyssey boats will be docked in the City Sporthafen at the heart of the busy port.

The programme will kick off with a reception at City Hall, followed by a visit to the Maritime Museum. After brunch at the Hamburg Sailing Association (Hamburger Segler Verband), participants will be taken on a tour of the port and the River Elbe.

After the start at high tide on 3 July, the boats will sail down the river Elbe escorted to Cuxhaven by the latest rescue vessel of the German Society for Saving Lives at Sea. The night will be spent at Cuxhaven so as to ensure a daytime start for the passage across the North Sea.


The Cruising Association House & Limehouse Marina

The Cruising Association House & Limehouse Marina

Timing the arrival in the Thames Estuary is essential as by catching the right tide, it is possible to cover the remaining distance to London on one tide. The gates of the Thames tidal barrier mark the entrance into this great city.

Passing the zero meridian at Greenwich

Passing the zero meridian at Greenwich

The symbolic zero meridian will be crossed while sailing past the Greenwich Observatory and the Cutty Sark clipper ship. All these major attractions will be visited during the London stopover. Among London’s attractions are the traditional pubs and a so-called pub crawl is planned to some of the oldest and most famous. To those interested in art, free entry to London’s museums and national galleries will provide a cultural alternative.

Depending on the number of participants, the fleet will be based either in Limehouse Basin, home to the Cruising Association, or in Royal Victoria dock right by the Canary Wharf banking centre.

On 12 July the landmark Tower Bridge will open to allow the European Odyssey fleet to pass by the 11th century Tower into the Pool of London. After 30 minutes, Tower Bridge will open again for the fleet to depart for the cross channel destination: Cherbourg.


Nautical base Albert Livory   La Cité de la Mer, maritime museum
Jimmy Cornell and Pascal Guiraudou discussing logistics and activities program with Magali Hamon, Director of Port Chantereyne Marina

Jimmy Cornell and Pascal Guiraudou discussing logistics and activities program with Magali Hamon, Director of Port Chantereyne Marina

The arrival of the rally is timed to coincide with the celebrations marking the French national holiday of 14 July. A firework display over the centrally located Chantereyne marina will herald a rich programme of activities, from practical lessons on the intricacies of French cuisine to a visit to the famous landing beaches of 1944.

In its heyday, Cherbourg was one of the busiest ports for transatlantic voyages and it was also the Titanic’s last continental stop before its fateful voyage in 1912. A permanent exhibition is dedicated to this subject at the former maritime station that has been converted into a vast exhibition centre housing the deepest aquarium in Europe and also the largest nuclear submarine.


Working dinner in Brest with from left to right: Eric Vandenbroucke, Director Technopôle Brest-Iroise, Annick Trinquet, Director for International Economic Cooperation, Jimmy Cornell, Michel Morvan, Director General of Municipal Strategy, Pascal Guiraudou, Event Manager Cornell Sailing, Jean-Claude Lardic, Deputy Mayor of Brest.

Cherbourg’s maritime rival will be the European Odyssey’s next host.

Marina du Chateau

Marina du Chateau

A late addition to the rally route, Brest is considered to be a better starting place for a crossing of the Bay of Biscay.

As a European centre for oceanographic and meteorological research, some of those institutions will play an important role in the scientific projects undertaken by participants in the various Odyssey rallies organized by Cornell Sailing. During our stay we shall visit some of those institutions and also the famous Oceanopolis. Dedicated to the discovery of the oceans, this vast complex comprises a total of 68 aquaria, with special pavilions on the flora and fauna of the Arctic, Antarctic, tropical and temperate seas.

La Coruña

The Tower of Hercules   Marina A Coruña

After their crossing of the Bay of Biscay landfall will be made in this attractive Galician city.

Meeting at A Coruña Tourism Office with Jose Paz Gestoso, Managing Director, Lorena Ceamor, PR and Communications Manager Northwest Marinas, and Julio Fernandez de la Iglesia, Director of Promotion.

Meeting at A Coruña Tourism Office with Jose Paz Gestoso, Managing Director, Lorena Ceamor, PR and Communications Manager Northwest Marinas, and Julio Fernandez de la Iglesia, Director of Promotion.

The entrance into the port is guarded by the Tower of Hercules, built by the Romans in the first century AD and the only lighthouse of antiquity still in operation today. Nearby is Marina Coruña, a convenient base for exploring this vibrant city as well as its attractive surroundings.

The painter Pablo Picasso studied art here in the late 19th century and his early work was first exhibited in 1895, when he was only thirteen years old. A guided tour that follows the Picasso trail will be provided by the local tourism office as well as other tours to the city’s attractions.


Sunset over Douro Marina

Sunset over Douro Marina


José Sampaio, Commercial Director of Douro Marina, and Francisca Lima of Feel Douro charter company

José Sampaio, Commercial Director of Douro Marina, and Francisca Lima of Feel Douro charter company

The European Odyssey host in Porto will be the new marina on the south bank of the Douro River across from the old city of Porto.

Upstream from the Douro Marina are located the famous port wine lodges and a tasting tour will be organized during the fleet’s stay. A tour of the historic city of Porto will be organized by motorized three wheelers called tuk-tuks.

The marina will host a concert by the local school of fado, while another local attraction is the seafood restaurants in the neighbouring fishing village.


Monument of Discoveries

Monument of Discoveries

On arrival in the Portuguese capital, the fleet will sail past the distinctive Monument of Discoveries. One of the most famous Portuguese explorers was Vasco de Gama and the World Exhibition Expo 98 was held in Lisbon in 1998 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.

The European Odyssey will be docked in the marina built for Expo 98 and now part of a large complex, Parque dos Nações, which contains an interactive science museum, shopping centre, cinemas and the very special Oceanarium, housing one of the largest aquariums in Europe.

This marina was inaugurated by the arrival of the Expo 98 round the world rally which marked the start of the World Exhibition, while the Millennium Odyssey, another one of our round the world rallies, departed from here on the final day of the exhibition. The marina has excellent connections to the centre of Lisbon, where a host of attractions are waiting to be discovered, from a tour in an old tram up the steep and narrow lanes of the old quarter to spending an evening in one of the famous fado clubs.

Marina Parque dos Nações   With Filipa Villar, Marina Coordinator


Walls of the Kasbah des Oudayas   Marina Bouregreg

The Odyssey fleet will be berthed at the Bouregreg Marina at the heart of the Moroccan capital.

Located in an exceptional site at the mouth of the Bouregreg river, this modern and well-appointed marina lies between the two towns of Rabat and Salé, and opposite the Kasbah of the Udayas, the iconic fortress spanning ten centuries of history that have shaped the city, and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

There will be time during the visit to explore the town, visit its markets and old quarters, sample Moroccan cuisine or even take a trip inland towards Marrakech, Meknès or Fès.


Work at the brand new Marina Lanzarote is rapidly nearing completion and awaiting to welcome participants in the European Odyssey and Atlantic Odyssey. As a special introductory offer, participants at these events will benefit of a 50 percent discount on hauling out fees at the boatyard for bookings made before 1 November.

The final and longest leg of the rally will take the fleet to its destination Marina Lanzarote in the island’s capital Arrecife. This will be a good base from which to explore this unique island, while those who prefer to return home before their Atlantic crossing will be able to leave their boats here and take advantage of the substantial long term discounts offered by the owners of the marina, Calero Marinas, and sponsors of both the European and Atlantic Odyssey. There is a good range of repair facilities on the island, which also has frequent international flights to many European destinations.

Some may be tempted to cross the Atlantic with the Atlantic Odyssey, starting on 16 November and bound for Le Marin in Martinique. The alternative is to spend longer in the Canaries and cross the Atlantic with Atlantic Odyssey II, departing from La Palma on 8 January 2015. The Caribbean sponsor of both Atlantic Odysseys is the Martinique Tourism Board (Comité Martiniquais de Tourisme).

Our team is looking forward to welcoming you in this exciting new event that has been devised to ensure you a safe and enjoyable southbound voyage.

Jimmy Cornell

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