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Sète: short stories of pirates and the great story of a naval battle disrupted by the war in Ukraine


It was Wednesday, April 13 that the traditional, joyful and noisy naval battle took place. With a different program. And a thought for the Shtandart, which could not take part during this 2022 edition of Stopover in Sète.

The naval battle, for Escale à Sète and its public, is sacred! Tradition has it that two ships, the Grace and the Shtandart, provide much of the show. The pirates shouting and firing cannons. The replicating Standarddart. The public responding to their apostrophes from the docks. Smoke rising in the port of Sète. Children jumping with each shot.

But for this 2022 edition, the great story, the one that is being written before our eyes in Ukraine, where war is raging, has invited itself to the naval battle. Coming to disturb the little stories to laugh and dream of shaggy pirates, blank shots and the pleasure of playing, on a large scale, on the waters of Sète.

The Shtandart prevented

The Shtandart was indeed prevented. Flying the Russian flag, although having a captain of dual Russian and Ukrainian origin, although involved in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, taking up the cause, although transporting refugees, his arrival was prohibited. And until the last moment no one knew who could replace Grace’s gambling rival.

The battle was announced, was to take place. Some hoped that the Russian ship could come to fight without ever docking. That was not possible either.

With the Pandora

It was finally the Pandora which started the show battle for the public who came in large numbers to gather on the Sète quays, Wednesday April 13th. With smoke bombs in front of the guns. And the naval battle “Grace against the rest of the world” took place at the appointed time, the pirates eventually approaching all the boats to invective the crowd that had gathered there.

A real spectacle, where we jumped at each shot. Where we smiled. Where the pirates toasted the health of the spectators. A different but successful naval battle! But where many sailors as well as the organizers undoubtedly had a thought for the crew of the Shtandart, today blocked and without solution.