Sunderland to host Tall Ships Races 2018

Sunderland has been chosen as one of the home ports for the prestigious “Tall Ships Races” in 2018.

Being chosen for this prestigous event reflects the importance of Sunderland as a port both historically and currently and the massive refurbishment of St Peter's Wharf and beyond. The event is expected to build on other major developments such as the new public space at the heart of the city centre ‘Keel Square’ which celebrates Sunderland’s shipbuilding heritage.

The races are open to any mono-hull sailing vessel of more than 9.14m water line length, provided that at least 50 percent of the crew is aged between 15 and 25 years old and that the vessel meets strict safety equipment requirements. Crews are truly inclusive, open to people of all abilities.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson said: “This is fantastic news that Sunderland has been chosen as a host port for The Tall Ships races in 2018. This success reflects the enthusiastic response from partners, organisations and individuals across the whole region who supported our bid. It shows once again our strengths for holding and hosting events such as The Sunderland International Airshow, stadium concerts and the Sunderland Illuminations.

“This is a great event everyone to experience and enjoy our river. There are going to be many opportunities for young people in terms of volunteering, developing new skills and making new friends during the event.

“I hope everyone takes advantage of the opportunities this is bringing and joins us to make it a truly memorable experience for the crews as we welcome them to the ‘home of shipbuilding’.”

Sunderland was once the largest shipbuilding town in the world. Over recent years its seafront and riverside have undergone extensive award winning regeneration works and is fast becoming a vibrant, bustling location for families to enjoy time together by the water.

The event is expected to build on the other major developments. By the end of this year there will be a new public space at the heart of the city centre ‘Keel Square’ complete with lighting and public realm pieces specially commissioned to celebrate Sunderland’s shipbuilding heritage.

Some of the proposed berthing areas will be where great sailing ships like the Adelaide and Torrens were built. The Torrens was the fastest passenger clipper to cross from London to Adelaide in the latter part of the 19th century.

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Harry Trueman said: “It is great news for the city and gives us all yet another positive goal to work towards. Between now and then, the only other chance to see these magnificent ships in the UK will be in Belfast next year. This goes to show that we continue to gain hard-earned recognition as a great city to hold events.

I am sure both residents and visitors enjoy this festival of sailing and take pride in our significant contribution to the history of ship design and building.”

Sailing has always played an important role on the Wear and Sunderland is recognised as one of the early centres for the sport. Sailing has been organised here for over 160 years by either Sunderland Yacht Club or its predecessors. The current club has been in existence since 1912 and celebrates its 106th anniversary year with The Tall Ships Races 2018. The club caters for most forms of sailing activity, including being a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) recognised training establishment.

Paul Bishop, Head of the Race Directorate at Sail Training International added: “There are a myriad of factors that need to be considered when selecting ports and planning a Tall Ships Race series and many people are brought into the process to bring in their expertise, knowledge and judgement.

"Planning for a new race series starts four years in advance and we are delighted with the Board of Directors choice of ports for 2018, which we are confident will all deliver high quality events with excellent support for sail training.

“We are always looking for opportunities to include new destinations in our race itinerary. Sunderland has a great reputation for hosting large scale events and with its excellent location and the whole community  behind them, I'm sure it will be a great success."

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