Crews practise in Bantry Bay.

THIS Saturday, President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins will officially launch the Atlantic Challenge International Contest of Seamanship 2012 in Bantry, one of the biggest events to be held in Ireland this summer.

President Higgins will review a full Presidential guard of honour and also review a Parade of Nations from the 16 countries involved, who will be supported in the parade with young sports people from clubs in the Bantry area.

The Parade of Nations will commence at 1:30 pm with 16 international crews wearing their country colours supported by 350 children from sports clubs in the area.

The Bantry 2012 Atlantic Challenge is an international contest of seamanship involving 16 competing nations with 320 crewmembers competing in 12 events over eight days.

The competition started in 1986 under the Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbour between America and France racing Bantry Bay longboats, and two years later in Dourenez, France Ireland and Denmark joined the competition.

There are now Bantry Bay longboats all over the world, from the USA to Indonesia, Canada to Russia, and all over Europe

The Atlantic Challenge contest will take place over eight days where the competitors will be tested on their seafaring skills in eleven different events teamwork, decision making.

Points are awarded by position in event, with the crew with the lowest points being crowned winners as Atlantic Challenge 2012.

As well as the competitions the Fringe Festival aims to bring merriment and fun to all in the Bantry area and will run for the duration of the Atlantic Challenge

Among the events scheduled is a twilight pageant, a family fun day, a pirate day including a pirate flotilla; Bantry Bay Food Festival; traditional boat festival/currach racing/ windsurfing/junior team sailing events and raft races.

Live music with more than 20 different bands playing over the event all for free to the public.

Art exhibitions, kids art competition, photo competition, Tailor & Ansty shows, lifeboat open day and air sea rescue demo, guided town walks, light craft, camera obscura, road bowling, dog & terrier racing and much more.


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