The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta is heading to Northumberland for the first time.
Some of the largest and most spectacular Tall Ships in the world will sail into Blyth over the weekend of August 26 to 29 in 2016.
The Port of Blyth, in association with Northumberland County Council and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious race and a large number of people are expected to attend the Regatta, which will be one of the biggest events ever held in the county.
Northumberland County Council Leader Grant Davey said: “This is the first time that Northumberland has been awarded the honour of hosting the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta and it is going to be a fantastic maritime celebration.
“We are expecting huge interest in this world-famous event, which offers residents and visitors an amazing chance to experience all the excitement of the Tall Ships fleet in port.”
The weekend will be a festival of celebration, with concerts, a sea battle, sporting competitions and a crew parade.
Visitors will get a great view of the ships in the main public quay areas and I am sure the event will prove hugely popular.Martin Lawlor, Port of Blyth Chief Executive.
Port of Blyth Chief Executive Martin Lawlor said: “We are delighted that the Regatta is coming to Blyth and look forward to welcoming the ships and their crews.
“Visitors will also get a great view of the ships in the main public quay areas and I am sure the event will prove hugely popular.
“As a Trust Port we are pleased to have played our part in securing the event for the benefit of our stakeholders and the region as a whole.”
The first Tall Ships Race in 1956 was a race of 20 of the world’s remaining large sailing ships from Torbay to Lisbon, and was meant to be a last farewell to the era of the great sailing ships.
However, public interest was so intense the Sail Training International Race Committee formed a founding organisation and has since organised Tall Ships Races and Regattas annually around the world, attracting hundreds of ships and millions of spectators.
In 2016 there will be a chance for a new generation to get involved in the race.
Sail Training International Head of Race Directorate Paul Bishop said: “Blyth’s association with the sea and ships has been a part of Northumberland’s heritage for centuries so it is fitting that the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta will see the region committing to finding 50 young people to sail in the 500 nautical mile race to Gothenburg.
“Sail training is an activity that inspires self-confidence and personal responsibility and is the reason we have been organising Tall Ships Races and Regattas around the world since 1956.
“Northumberland’s trainees, aged between 16 to 25 years old, will have a unique sail training experience confronting demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. For many of them it will be a life-changing experience.”
Northumberland County Council Business Chairman Scott Dickinson said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to host the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016.
“It will give a tremendous boost to the economy and will put the county at the forefront of national and international media attention. The recent Regatta at Falmouth had a very positive impact, attracting 100,000 visitors and generating over £12million for the local economy, and it will be a great opportunity for individuals of all ages and organisations to be involved in a world-class event.”
The starting host port for 2016 is the Port of Blyth and the first ships are expected to start arriving on Wednesday, August 24. As the harbour is not affected by tides, the Regatta is expected to be a mobile one, with ships able to sail in and out at any time. The ships will then set off on a race leg to Gothenburg, which hosts the Tall Ships from September 3 to 6.