Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 11

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 11
Lögberg-Heimskringla • Millennium Edition • Friday 4 February 2000 • 11 Return of the Icelander —a millennium later! Tlie following is an excerfit from an inter- view with Captain Gunnar Marel Eggertsson conducted by Jón Einars. Gustafsson. ONE OF THE MAIN EVENTS of the millennium celebrations this year will be the sailing of the viking ship íslendingur (“Icelander”) from Iceland via Greenland, Newfoundland, and Canada to the United States to cele- brate one thousand years since Leifur Eriksson and his crew came to the “New World”. The viking ship íslendingur was built by master shipbuilder and captain Gunnar Marel Eggertsson, whose ship is said to be the most detailed replica of the Gaukstadir longship that is preserved at a museum in Norway. It certainly requires resourcefulness to build a viking ship, and Capt. Eggertsson’s efforts have indeed proved worthwhile. The magnificent longship íslendingur can sail at a speed of 16 knots, a fact that sheds light upon some of the descriptions in the sagas, previously thought to be exaggerations. Said Capt. Eggertsson: “When you get favourable winds and reach this kind of speed, air bubbles start building under the ship, and eventually it lifts and glides on a cushion of air like a hovercraft. The rudder hardly touches the water, hence all you can do is go forward, unless you use the sails to guide the ship”. Watching Capt. Eggertsson sail his longship is quite an experience. It appears as if he is riding a horse. With one hand he holds two strong ropes that lead up to each corner of the 135 square-metre sail. With the other hand, he holds the rudder and gently guides the ship along. A crew of at least eight people is required to work the sail during a voyage, whereas at least thirty-six people are required to row the 25-tonne ship when close to land. It should be pointed out, that lack of wind is rarely an issue around the shores of Iceland and out on the North Atlantic Ocean. When asked by a Life magazine reporter about the risks of crossing the Atlantic in a viking ship, Capt. Eggertsson simply replied: “I know what I am doing!” He certainly does. In 1991 he was one of the captains of the Norwegian viking ship Gaia, that sailed from Norway to New York and from there to Rio de Janeiro. Most of the crew members on íslendingur are highly experienced fisher- men from Eggertsson’s hometown on the Westman Islands; however, there will be one woman onboard, Ellen Ingvadóttir, who is following in the footsteps of the viking woman Gudrídur Thorbjarn-ardót- tir. Guðríður is known in the sagas for her great travels a thousand years ago and also for being the mother of the first European child bom in North America. The longship íslendingur will set sail from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík, on Iceland’s National Day, June 17. After calling at Greenland, Islendingur will amive at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, on July 28. After calling at several ports in Newfoundland, Capt. Eggertsson and his crew will commence the journey to Halifax, Canada, and from there head towards New York via ports on the east coast of the United States. Right: íslendingur in Reykjavík harbour. 2 mmummmmmmammmmBœmmssmsmmm The best of Icelandic theatre Partnership Icelandic writer-director Brynja Benediktsdóttir (right) with Irish actress Tristan Gribbin in Iceland. The Saga of Gudridur is a one- woman show which follows the saga of the courageous and vision- ary Icelandic heroine Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir. Her story describes the first settlement in North America by peo- ple from Iceland and Greenland five cen- turies before Columbus, around the yeai' 1005. This was a'pivotal time when Icelanders and Greenianders converted to Christianity fronr their heathen beliefs. After returning to Iceland, Gudridur made a pilgrimmage on foot through Europe to Rome to meet the Pope. The play was written and directed by Brynja Benediktsdottir, a well-known actress and director in Iceland. She wrote three ver- sions of the play: Icelandic, English, and Swedish. All of them premiered in a the- atre that Brynja and her actor husband, Erlingur Gíslason, built as an extension to their home in downtown Reykjavík. The music for the play was written by Margrét Omolfsdóttir, a former member of the Sugarcubes, the Icelandic band that launched Björk’s intemational career. The Saga of Gudridur has so far been per- fornied in Dublin, Prince Edward Island, Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, Sweden ,and Finland. The actress who plays all the play’s characters in this English lan- guage version, including humans, ani- rnals, and forces of nature, is Tristan Gribbin. DA V 1 D Gislason is chairing the Millennium 125 commission. The commission consists of rep- resentati ves from all over Cahada. The name of the commission reflects very well what it is doing: “Millennium” for the thousand years since Leifur Eiriksson came to L’Anse aux Meadows, and “125” for the 125 years since the Icelanders'came the the coast of Lake Winnipeg to settle in Gimli, Manitoba. Millennium 125 is working in close cooperation with the chapters of the Icelandic National League, with the INL itself, with the Millennium Bureau of Canada andthe representatives of the Icelandic Govemment in Iceland and in Canada. The initiative of the Millennium 125 and of David Gislason especially is highly evaluated by the Icelandic authorities. For more information, visit our website: www.iceland2000.org



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