Description of the MIR
MIR was built as the third of six almost similar sisterships at the Lenin-shipyard in Gdansk/Poland that later became famous for the 'Solidanocz' activities lead by Lech Valensa. This man, who later became President of Poland was actually one of the shipyard workers who helped to build the MIR. In 1981 the nearly unknown ships constructor Zygmunt Choren had designed a brandnew type of square rigged sailtraining vessels (M108-Type). The first ship of this family, the DAR MLODZIEZY was built to replace the old sailtraining ship DAR POMORZA for the Polish merchant navy. Being a clever construction, the USSR decided, they, too, wanted such a ship. Not only one – five! First came DRUZHBA and the in 1987 the MIR.
For the MIR Choren altered the rigging and so he made a ship that could be brought extremely high to the wind. MIR is also a bit longer than DAR MLODZIEZY. While she was still under construction, one could see, that this brought some inconveniences: she is rolling quite heavily in seas coming from behind. So for the following vessels PALLADA, KHERSONES and NADEZHDA the construction was changed again. Their waterline is longer by the same length of the hull. Actually this should mean, they are faster than the MIR – but they are not.
In December 1987 Captain Viktor Antonov sailed her home safely to Saint-Petersburg/Russia, at that time called Leningrad. The ship was built and always used as sailtraining ship. She served for the education of cadets from the State Maritime Academy. Being a very fast ship from the beginning she took part in several regattas which she as a rule won, first time winning overall in the OPERATION SAIL 1989. Unfortunately after the the break down of the communistic system in Russia hard times hit the ship. Her new owner became the Baltic Shipping Company and the ship had to struggle financially. A solution seemed to be to invite foreigners to sail as trainees on MIR, to make day sailings with passengers, to rent salons for incentives and parties. All these things not being normal activities for a sailtraining ship helped to keep the ship afloat. By the end of 1993 MIR again became the property of the Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy who still owns the ship.
MIR is nowadays regarded as one of the finest racing vessels. Her major triumph was winning the GRAND REGATTA CLOUMBUS 1992 that crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice. MIR is also the only class A vessel in the world that won the Cutty-Sark-Tallships-Races twice, not only in her class, but all over the entire field of racing ships of all classes. Another remarkable voyage took place during the C.S.T.S.R. 1996 when MIR sailed the race leg Rostock-Saint Petersburg in only 2 days 6 hours. All this brought her the unofficial title "Fastest Sailing Vessel in the World".
What makes her so fast? After a time of testing, the positions of the lifeboats were altered, making it possible to bring her up to 30° to the wind. This is very unusual for a square rigger. Most of them can only cope with up to 60°. MIR's masters know how to use the advantages of his ship perfectly. They sail MIR like a yacht, using an almost parallel postion between square sails and staysails. So quite often zigzagging can be avoided in favor of following a direct course. Running before the wind MIR has already logged up to 19 knots, some of the crew say, even more.
The engine, too, is constructed in a very sophisticated way. Two identical Cegielski-Sulzer-Diesel-Motors on only one propeller make her go at up to 11 knots under ideal conditions. MIR can be brought safely into port with either of them on it’s own.
Additionally MIR is one of the safest sailing vessels ever built. She is extremely stabile. According to her constructor, if all bulleyes are closed, healing over to 90° would not be a problem for her. Normally the critical point is 45°, the end is reached y 60° on traditional windjammers.
Without having any kind of luxuries, she can be called very comfortable. Normally you can drink the water that is coming out of her taps, the heating works very well. Everybody has got enough space in the cabin. Only the direction of the bed could have been different. In heavy seas it can happen that you fall out of your bed.
The ship has got drying rooms to dry your clothes when you came in from the watch soaked from the rain, a microwave in the crew’s mess room, very convenient if the captain decides to make a tack during your mealtime, board loudspeakers, so one need not search the entire ship for a person. Charming details are a piano in the cadet’s school room and a chessboard on the capstan.
Helm watch is more fun on the MIR than on traditional ships. Why? First of all, the hydraulic system makes it possible, that one person can steer on his own, second, it is possible to steer from the inside with a joystick. The main reason is that the helmsman stands on a high position in front of the bridge house. So he can see not only almost all sails, but the entire ship and the sea.
By rigging MIR is a ship. Up to 26 sails can be set. See the rigging plan for the names of them. The trick is that the Russians use Dutch terminology which is not so different from the German. The masts are fore-, main-, and mizzenmast, but most time the mizzen is also called “Besanmast”.
The maximum crew is 199 men, the ship can be sailed by only 30. But that means that absolutely everybody without exception has to go to the braces. The winter-crew consists of 24 men. That means: no sails.