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July August 2019 Marina World

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MARKET UPDATE: LATVIA, LITHUANIA & POLAND Left & below: Gdynia Sports Centre in Poland operates a marina with 260 berths in an area that has historically been home to an enthusiastic sailing community. Developing infrastructure in the Baltic Although yachting infrastructure has developed significantly on the Baltic coast over the past few years with many marinas and yacht clubs emerging in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the opportunities for boat owners to find a berth and obtain necessary services still varies according to specific country and region. Vladislav Vorotnikov reports. Latvia works with Estonia It is believed that the first yacht club with marina in the Russian Empire opened in the city of Riga in 1879. Riga hosted the first regatta in the country and for several decades was considered to be the capital for Russian yachting. Things changed with the 1918 October Revolution as yachts were strongly associated with the bourgeoisie, which the communists pledged to destroy once they came into power. As of today, there are 16 yacht clubs with marinas in Latvia, including four in Riga. The biggest is Latvijas Jachta with 80 berths for yachts up to 30m (98ft). This is also one of the oldest yacht clubs in the city as it was developed from the Central Yacht Club, which was launched at the same place in the 1960s. “Marina infrastructure has developed in Latvia, especially over the past two years, thanks to the Interreg Estonia-Latvia programme project ‘Improvement of sailing infrastructure and yacht harbours network building in Estonia and Latvia’,” commented Karlis Kints, marina harbour master for the Liepaja Port Authority. “Almost all Latvian marinas are participating in this project. Some have done more than others to this day, but the project ends in May 2020, and by that time we hope to be able to provide the same service level across all Latvian marinas,” Kints said. The overall investment cost of the project is €10 million and the main objective is to develop equal standards in project partners’ harbours to ensure that the whole sailing network is safe, equipped and offers basic services – safe navigation conditions, safe mooring places, drinking water and electricity on the pier, available toilet and shower, reliable Wi-Fi and safety equipment. The depth of the fairway at each of the ports will be at least 2.5m (8ft). In addition, there are marketing activities aimed at attracting visitors from main target markets – Finland, Sweden, Germany and Poland, as well as ensuring more cross-border sails between Latvia and Estonia. Over the past few years, the amount of boats visiting Latvian marinas has been rising steadily, Kints noted. “Every year the number of permanent yachts and incoming foreign yachts increases in the port of Jurmala,” added Inese Artemjeva, port management assistant of Jurmala Sea Port. “Pavilosta Marina is also participating in the Interreg Est-Lat project and it is developing. In spring we reconstructed our pier, enlarged the number of fingers and now have four. In autumn we will rebuild our slipway,” said Anete Blazevica, a spokesperson for Pavilosta Marina. “The challenge is always to get more and more boats to fill the marina for the whole season. But the good thing is that the season is becoming longer as weather conditions are getting warmer and warmer.” Lithuania plays catch-up Unlike Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania has never considered itself to be a truly coastal state as its coastline is just 99km (61.5mi) long; the shortest of all the Baltic states. The entire yachting activity in the country is concentrated in the city of Klaipeda and on the Curonian Spit. There are a few projects underway involving yachting infrastructure. First, there is the long-running Sventoji port construction project west of Klaipeda. The Lithuanian Government approved the development of the port with www.marinaworld.com - July/August 2019 51

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