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Record sails in salute to Columbus

NEW YORK - The harbour was shrouded in mist yesterday as a parade of tall ships made its way up the Hudson River, to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the New World, writes Leonard Doyle.

It was the largest grouping of tall ships and other wind- powered vessels since the age of sail began. Thirty-one tall ships and 250 smaller vessels from around the world gathered before dawn yesterday at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge where, on 17 April 1524, with white sails billowing in the wind, the Florentine navigator Giovanni da Verrazano steered his ship La Dauphine beside Manhattan island.

The parade followed the route taken by the English captain of the Dutch ship the Half Moon nearly a century later when seeking the North-west Passage.

The tall ships review began four days of ship parades, concerts and festivals over the Fourth of July weekend, and upwards of 15 million spectators were expected, despite forecasts of rain and thunder.

Yeserday the US Coastguard was shooing more than 40,000 small boats away from the difficult-to-manoeuvre tall ships as they sailed the 11 miles from the Verrazano Bridge to the George Washington Bridge at the top of Manhattan island.

(Photograph omitted)