Shetland Welcomes 'Spirit Dancer' as part of the Tall Ships Races Cruise In Company Festivities

As the programme for The Tall Ships Races 2011, presented by Szczecin, organised by Sail Training International, continues to gain momentum, Cruise in Company guest harbours, Yell and Scalloway have announced a welcome addition to their impressive line-up of events.

The Spirit Dancer in action on the Sound of Mull (Photo: Chris Cooper) Traditional Canadian canoe ‘Spirit Dancer’ will be arriving in Shetland on 18 July and heading straight to Cullivoe for two days and then onto Scalloway, giving the public the rare opportunity to take part in some unique paddling trips along Shetland’s remarkable coastline.

Chris Cooper is the founder behind the ‘Spirit Dancer’ canoe journeys. Originally from Yorkshire, he is now based in British Columbia. He has over 30 years’ experience in the adventure travel business and is keen to share his passion and knowledge for the great outdoors and canoeing whilst learning as much as he can about Shetland during his time here. The focus of his trip is very much in keeping with the ethos of The Tall Ships Races, encouraging young people on a journey of adventure and friendship whilst experiencing the challenges of the sea.

Sail Yell’s vice chair, Emily Tulloch, who has been helping to co-ordinate the visit said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community as well as for visitors and Tall Ships’ crews. We’re delighted that Chris has decided to include Shetland in his tour of the British Isles and especially pleased that he is going to spend two days with us in Cullivoe.

“It’s a truly magnificent canoe and we would really encourage as many people as possible to sign up for what promises to be a memorable experience. The event is free and is open to everyone. Adults and children, from about primary school age and up are welcome, but we do ask that under 16s are accompanied by an adult.”

The custom-designed canoe is made from fibre glass and wood and is 42 feet long and its decorative paintings aim to emulate the style of an original birch bark canoe.  The vessel is an extremely sturdy craft to paddle. You can walk up and down the outrigger system and it will remain incredibly stable so no previous paddling experience is necessary. There is space for between 16 and 19 paddlers per trip and there will be four crew members on board to assist and provide all the necessary safety equipment. A film maker will also be present to help Chris document his travels throughout the islands.

Chris commented: “Over 1,200 British people have joined me in the canoe to help get ‘Spirit Dancer’ around the UK coastline. I’m really excited about our trip to Shetland this summer and am looking forward to meeting and inviting as many people as possible to experience this remarkable canoe. So far we have plans to go to Yell and Scalloway but we are available to put on trips or talks for the whole month.”

Each trip will last for approximately 30 minutes to one hour and trips are scheduled in Yell from the 18 – 20 July and in Scalloway from 20 – 21 July.

For further information on The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Cruise in Company and details on how to book, please contact Emily Tulloch (for Yell trips) on 01957 744387 or email sailyell@yahoo.co.uk or Davie Sandison (for Scalloway trips) on 01595 880317 or email daviesandison@aol.com

www.spiritdancercanoejourneys.ca