An exciting fleet of ships of all shapes and sizes will assemble at the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth this August Bank Holiday.
With four months to go, 21 Tall Ships have already signed-up to attend the four-day Regatta before setting sail on a 500-nautical-mile race from Blyth to Gothenburg, Sweden.
A vessel has to be at least 9.14metres long to be eligible to enter while offering sail training, with half the crew comprising people aged 15 to 25.
There are four classes of vessel covering square-rigged, traditionally rigged and modern rigged vessels.
The largest are the Class A vessels and those coming to Blyth include the Shtandart from Russia which is a replica of the 1703 frigate built by Peter the Great. It was built in 1994 at St Petersburg and is 32-metres long.
No actual plans of the original Shtandart had survived, but a naval historian, Victor Krainyukov, had been commissioned in 1987 by the Hermitage mMuseum in St Petersburg to research the ship.
He trawled Russian archives and gleaned information about ship design and construction from Dutch, French and British authors of the time. He also found an 18th-century engraving which showed the Shtandart in naval action.
As was traditional for the period, the ship is richly decorated with beautiful carvings. A lion figurehead and mermaids adorn the bow and there are wreaths around the gunports and on the transom, a three-headed dragon, flags, the imperial crest and King Neptune riding on the sea.
Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta which will be one of the largest events ever held in the county and the only Regatta in the UK this year, with Fergusons of Blyth confirmed as the principal sponsor for the event.
Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth, said: “Blyth is a deep water port which is going to make for an exciting ‘mobile’ event as the Tall Ships will be able to sail in and out of the harbour for short trips, allowing spectators to see them in their full glory on the sea.
“The quayside also offers excellent access so visitors will be able to get fantastic views of the ships and a chance to climb on board and meet the crews.”
One of the biggest Class A ships sailing into Blyth will be the 108-metre-long Dar Mlodziezy from Poland which has been owned by the Gdynia Maritime Academy since she was built in 1982.
She proved to be a highly successful sail training ship and four other sister ships were built in the following years: Druzhba, Khersonses, Mir, Nadeshda, and Pallada.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at the county council, said: “This is a historic first for Blyth and Northumberland and I am sure that residents and visitors will be delighted by the range of ships that have signed-up to the Regatta.
“The Shtandart is sailing from Russia to join the fleet for this event before racing to Gothenburg and I can’t wait to see this stunning replica when it sails into the port.”
For more information about the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016, visit www.tallshipsblyth2016.com
For further information on Sail Training International, visit www.sailtraininginternational.org