Video/Gallery: Armada of stunning tall ships carry 500 Dutch students into Ipswich

A fleet of impressive tall ships sailed into Ipswich yesterday as part of a Dutch university sailing challenge called the Race of the Classics.

The annual event sees hundreds of youngsters from universities across the Netherlands take to an armada of ships measuring up to 50m long and set out from Rotterdam for a week on the water. The ships set sail on Monday and arrived in Ipswich yesterday afternoon.

The visit to England was unplanned – the scheduled stop in the Hague was abandoned after the wind changed – but the stop-off in Ipswich went down well with most of the students who had been hoping for the chance to make the coast-to-coast trip.

Yael van Praag, a medical student from Amsterdam and one of the 30-strong organising team, said everyone had been very excited to arrive in Suffolk as they sailed up the Orwell.

She said that for many of the students it was the second, third or even fourth year taking part. “It’s really hard to describe why this event is so special to us,” she added.

“It’s about team-building and networking and all of the students from different universities and cities get to meet and connect. Everywhere we arrive we get a lot of attention from people who are passing by and there are a lot of cars pausing to look – it’s a pretty spectacular view and some of the ships are really big.”

Fellow committee member Anne Pladdet, 24, a tourism student, said that this year there are 500 students on 22 ships – the most the race has seen since it began 26 years ago – and the ships have crews of between 10 and 40 students, all guided by a captain and professional team of sailors.

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The tall ships remained in Ipswich overnight before heading back to Holland by Sunday.