Earlier today, Sunderland welcomed The Tall Ships Races organisers Sail Training International to the city as part of the planning process for this year’s event.

This year Sunderland will not only host the races for the first time but is also the start port for the race series. With 45 ships currently registered to take part and more expected to sign-up for the occasion (Wed 11 – Sat 14 July) the event is certainly taking shape.

As Europe's largest annual, free, family festival, the Tall Ships Races require a high level of dedicated planning from both Sail Training International and Host Port partners. Regularly attracting millions of visitors, year after year, there are many logistical, safety, commercial and marketing factors to be considered and carefully planned for in every port the fleet visit. Port planning visits, like the one today, are integral to ensuring that each Tall Ships event is delivered in a successful and safe manner and is able to be enjoyed by the widest audience possible.

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “Today’s visit is another step forward in the planning and delivery of this iconic event here in Sunderland.

“Organising such a huge event has relied on co-operation across council departments, emergency services, transport companies, event partners, voluntary groups, local businesses, support services and local organisations.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved so far for their dedication, help and support. This truly is a city-wide event and one that we should be rightly proud of.”

The visit not only looked into site preparations but also safety and security, event promotion, volunteer recruitment, sail trainees, berthing provision for the ships and of course care and activities for the crews, many of which will be visiting Sunderland for the first time.

Sail Training International’s race Chairman Knut Western said: “The Tall Ships Races is the crown jewel of all the sail training activities in the world. As such it showcases what sail training is: developing young people regardless of nation, culture, religion, social background or gender. 

“As an international event, we know we make a change in young peoples’ lives, and Sail Training International was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize some years ago to reflect our continued positive impact on young people’s lives.

“With these factors in mind, preparations are vitally important in delivering a successful event that delivers across a range of focuses. The visit to our partners here in Sunderland today has left us with every confidence that the proud history of spectacular Tall Ships Races events will be continued in 2018.”

The Tall Ships Races are the biggest single event Sail Training International organise. The races are held each year in European waters in an area stretching from The Baltic to the Mediterranean. They are planned four years in advance with the route carefully selected to enable visits to different sea areas and host ports old and new.