Capt. Sergey Valentinovich Timoshkov
During the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races 2002 MIR's master for many years, Captain Viktor Antonov handed over the command of the vessel to him. This was long planned as both knew each other for many years. Sergey Valentinovich and Viktor Nikoaevich had first met on the sailtraining yacht RITZA in 1978 - Viktor being master and Sergey cadet. When then some years later the MIR was built Sergey belonged to the vessel's first crew. He then sailed in the rank of the chief mate.
During that time however, Sergey decided not to stay with the MIR but to start a carreer in the merchant fleet. He sailed about 10 years on various commercial vessels with international companies. In Summer 2000 during the Tallships2000 trans-atlantic regatta he returned to the MIR. "There is something catchy about the ship!" he once told me. Although sailing worldwide he never lost the contact with the MIR and when in that summer the position of the chief mate was vacant he decided to return. I sailed with him from Esbjerg to Southampton in that summer and while we were on the watch together - he as watch officer, I as helmsman - he told me what he liked about the ship; "Formerly I had thought that a sailtraining ship is nothing but a big toy - a big an very expensive toy. But when I first sailed with her I saw the cadets and how they changed during their time on board. They come as boys - many of them away from home for the first time - and then step by step they learn to work the vessel. By the time when they leave they are adult. They leave as sailors and you can see how proud they are that they are really able to work this vessel. They are young men, they are reliable, they know what they are doing."
Sergey managed to develop his own style to operate the vessel. His ideas are modern and innovative, but also include traditional seamanship and knowledge. "I want to get the best out of the vessel," he once told me. "I want to operate her as a modern tall ship using all her sources." An example for this are his experiments with combining sails and engine to achieve both - more speed and more safety. Why not set some sails to help the engine or why not put on the engine to receive better wind conditions (using the head winds) for sailing?
Sergey also is brilliant in ship handling. During the winter stay in Hamburg this year he often left the mooring without tug boat assistance and once in ideal wind and tide conditions he even moored without tug boat assistance. This is very unlikely for a ship of this size. Another masterpiece of seamanship he showed when leaving the mooring in Travemuende totally under sails for the parade of sails at the end of the Tall Ships Race 2003. Sergey also likes anchoring. "Staying at the anchor is traditional for ships of that kind. In former times when tall ships had no auxillary engine it was often necessary to stay at the anchor for several hours, sometimes even days to wait for better wind or tide conditions. Anchoring is a rest for the ship and the crew, a time when maintenance works can be done best. I want to make it part of normal ship's life again," he says. The crew enjoys this - as many of them are passionate anglers.
In Summer 2005 Sergey decided to retire from active sailing to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.
B.B., Dec 2005
Photo Nicole Graf