A ‘Northumberland Navy’ of sail trainees is all set to gather at The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016 before setting sail to Sweden.
Organisers put out a call for would-be sailors six months ago and received a wave of applications from people wanting to take part in the event as a trainee on a Tall Ship.
A total of 80 recruits aged 15 to 63 have now enlisted to take part in the 500 nautical mile race from Blyth to Gothenburg.
Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta with Fergusons of Blyth as Principal Sponsor.
Most of the Tall Ships trainees come from Northumberland and 33 are being sponsored by ward councillors.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is one of the most exciting parts of the Tall Ships event and sailing to Gothenburg will be the adventure of a lifetime for our trainees.
“People from all parts of the county are taking part and it will be an amazing experience for them.”
Many of the participants are being supported by event sponsors including DFDS and IHC.
There are still spaces available for paying trainees via www.sailtraininginternational.org/sail-on-board
One of the ships, the Lord Nelson, can be sailed by a crew with widely varied physical abilities with every aspect of shipboard life available to all.
A special reception for trainees was held on Friday at Blyth, including a tour of the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos.
Blyth trainee, Emily Millican, aged 15, from Bede Academy School, Blyth, is sponsored by ward councillor, Deirdre Campbell.
Emily said: “I’m really happy to be part of the Tall Ships race.
“When I applied, I thought there’d be no chance but when I was selected, I was delighted to be one of the lucky ones.”
Coun Campbell said: “Taking part in a Tall Ships race offers a chance to sail into a world of adventure where you can challenge yourself, learn new skills, and make new friends from all around the world.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Emily and I’m very proud to be sponsoring her.”
Nick Mutton, 46, from Blyth, is being sponsored by local councillor Eileen Cartie.
He said: “I saw the advert for the Tall Ships Regatta on Facebook and just thought I would love to be part of that.
“I love classic cars and the old-fashioned style of the Tall Ships so I registered my details and, wow, I can’t believe I’ve been accepted – it’s such a great opportunity.”
Sail trainee, Dayna Currie, 23, from Newbiggin, is being sponsored by ward councillor Liz Simpson.
Dayna said: “I haven’t sailed before but when I saw this advertised, I really wanted to be part of it.”
“I was so excited to be accepted to join the Tall Ship Vega Gambleby sailing in the race to Sweden – my family didn’t believe me when I told them the news.”
Sail trainee, Andrew Steel, aged 21, from Widdrington is being sponsored by Druridge Bay ward councillor Scott Dickinson.
Andrew said: “I’ve never sailed on a ship or a yacht before so it is very exciting to be part of this. I am really looking forward to joining the crew and meeting people from all over the world on this incredible adventure.”
Sail trainee, Liz Nelson, 50, from Berwick is being sponsored by Berwick councillor Dougie Watkin.
She said: “This is the chance of a lifetime and sailing on a Tall Ship is something that I have always wanted to do. I’ve done a little bit of sailing in the past but nothing like this – it really is a dream come true!”
Up to 30 Tall Ships are expected to gather at Blyth for the Regatta and the new ‘Northumberland Navy’ of sail trainees will be joining most of the vessels taking part.
Northumberland County Councillor and Area Committee Central Vice-Chair, Veronica Jones, said: “Being part of a crew and learning how to sail a Tall Ship across the North Sea to Sweden will be a unique experience which our trainees can treasure forever.
“Taking part in the race opens the door to a world of adventure where you can learn lots of new skills and challenge yourself.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for all the trainees and I’m very proud to be a sponsor.”
Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth, said: “It will be an incredible sight to see the Tall Ships sail into Blyth, knowing that the trainees are experiencing something that is unparalleled.
“It’s a unique event built upon the splendour of the Tall Ships and the teamwork of their crews.”
The Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016 takes place over the weekend of August 26 to 29, and features five zones of free family entertainment.