The Tall Ships Races are an initiative by Sail Training International (STI). This non-profit organisation gives young people the opportunity to learn to sail, regardless of their (social) background, nationality, culture, religion and gender. The focus of The Tall Ships Races is not on the competition, but on the educational, sporting and social aspect. In doing so, STI fosters mutual understanding, respect and friendships that break down national boundaries. This earned them a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Located in the heart of Europe, Antwerp is home to the continent’s second-largest port. Thanks to this unique location, the city never stands still and influences from all over the world pour into Antwerp’s life. In this metropolis, economic innovations and cultural developments go hand in hand. But above all, Antwerp is a city that lives. More than 173 different nationalities call Antwerp home and make the Scheldt city buzz every day. The people of Antwerp are therefore proud to continue their tradition as host port and welcome The Tall Ships Races to their city for the seventh time.
With an overall throughput of 289 million tons per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. It is the number one export port of Europe. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs. The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear – to become the world’s first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future.
Sail Training Association Belgium (STAB) is an umbrella organisation for sailing in Belgium. With the We-Sail project, the organisation is aiming to focus mainly on sail training for young people. They not only learn to hoist sails or work with a compass, but also learn to work together, communicate and think to solve problems. STAB is one of the co-founders of Sail Training International.
Eight professionals with a strong connection to Antwerp are committing themselves to be ambassadors of The Tall Ships Races 2022 Antwerp. They are a sounding board for the organisation and promote this major public event at home and abroad. For example, they are supporting Balthazar Events, the agency in charge of the organisation. Together, they form a varied mix of people from different backgrounds. Each one contributes in their own way.
The ambassadors meet regularly (digitally) to discuss the planning of The Tall Ships Races and interesting opportunities for partners and organisers.
Out of love for Antwerp and its port, the ambassadors are throwing their weight behind this project with great dedication.
Alongside being Minister of State, Baron Van Daele is an honorary ambassador for The Tall Ships Races. In the past, he had joined the cabinets of His Majesty King Philippe and European Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy. He also served as Belgian Ambassador to the United States, EU Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Union.
The CEO of container shipping company MSC Belgium, Marc Beerlandt, knows better than anyone the role the port of Antwerp plays in the global flow of goods. As vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Antwerp Shipping Federation (ASV), he maintains good contacts with the wide port community.
Ingrid Ceusters holds a key position in the Belgian real estate world as CEO and Board President of CEUSTERS NV. In addition, she holds various positions in the medical field, where she also started her career as a doctor of dentistry.
Captain Carmen Dewilde made history as the first Belgian female captain-at-large. Now she is spending more time ashore, she is focusing on everything to do with safety training. She is also president of the maritime women's group WISTA, a professional networking organisation for women in the broad maritime industry.
In the port community, Wouter De Geest is still known as the former CEO of BASF. Today, he is at the helm of VOKA and is active in several companies. For example, he is Chairman of the Board at the Antwerp technology company Rombit. In addition, as a culture enthusiast, he holds directorships at ‘The Friends of the Flemish Opera’ and the ‘Antwerp Symphony Orchestra’.
As former Antwerp alderman for Culture and Economy, Philip Heylen hosted The Tall Ships Races in 2016. Today, he is Business Development Manager at Ackermans & van Haaren. He is also Managing Director at Port Of Duqm on behalf of DEME Concessions.
As general director, Maud Van de Velde develops the strategy and vision of the Toneelhuis in Bourla, Antwerp. She also sits on the board of Film Festival Ostend, the Ensors and the Flemish Audiovisual Fund. Until October 2019, Maud Van de Velde was a management director at Fox Belgium. Prior to this, she headed up the international content arm of Kinepolis Group, where she brought opera, theatre and sports to cinemas in addition to films.
Laura Van Waeyenberge has a strong background in corporate communications and public affairs. She is COO at Growth Inc, independent director at the Toneelhuis and sits on the Board of Directors of the investment fund De Eik, among others.