Blyth is to host the prestigious North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016, an event involving some of the largest and most spectacular sailing vessels in the world, it was announced today.
The Tall Ships will sail into Blyth over the weekend of August 26 to 29, 2016, giving visitors the opportunity to see one of the greatest maritime sights in the world. The Port of Blyth, in association with Northumberland County Council and Sail Training International, is hosting the event 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.
It will give a tremendous boost to the economy and will put the county at the forefront of national and international media attentionScott Dickinson, Northumberland County Council business chairman
It comes on the back of the announcement that two stages of this year’s Tour of Britain will take place in the county, with the first featuring a finish at Blyth.
Northumberland County Council leader, Coun Grant Davey, said: “This is the first time that Northumberland has been awarded the honour of hosting the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016 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 here at Blyth.”
Blyth is the starting host port for 2016 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. The first North Sea Regatta was held in 2010, racing from Hartlepool to Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.
Martin Lawlor, chief executive of Port of Blyth, 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. The race was 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 that 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.
Paul Bishop, head of race directorate at Sail Training International, 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 and 25, 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.”
Coun Scott Dickinson, business chairman for Northumberland County Council, 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 more than £12million for the local economy and the event will be a great opportunity for individuals of all ages and organisations to be involved in a world-class event.”