Tall Ships Races to return to Lerwick in 2023

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11 May 2021

The Swan Trust is delighted that Lerwick has been selected for the third time to be a host port for the spectacular Tall Ships Races. Sail Training International, operator of the Tall Ships Races, has announced the selected host ports for the 2023 series, with the Races expected to visit Lerwick from 26-29 July.  The isles previously hosted the event in 1999 and 2011.

Shetland Islands Council led the isles’ successful bid, in partnership with Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Tall Ships Limited, which will undertake delivery of the event locally. Many other organisations are supporting the event, including EventScotland, Sail Training Shetland and The Swan Trust.

David Goodlad, Chair of The Swan Trust, commented: “This is great news, and presents a fantastic opportunity for our community. We have worked closely with Sail Training Shetland for a number of years to provide sail training opportunities to 15-25 year olds and have close links with the partner organisations in the bid.

“We look forward to supporting the Lerwick event organising committee, including promoting Lerwick as a port for 2023, offering additional sail trainee placements aboard Swan, promoting volunteering activities and creating links with other local organisations to help our community further benefit from the event coming to Shetland.”

The Trust has taken part in the Tall Ships Races since it was first in Shetland in 1999, enabling hundreds of young Shetlanders to take part in the races and visit various European ports. These sail training opportunities are about much more than learning how to operate a sailing vessel, they build skills, confidence, friendships and life experience.

Bringing the event back to Shetland in 2023 will provide further opportunities for the community, including its young people, to get involved and benefit from the experience of being part of a high profile international event.

Peter Campbell, Swan Trust and Sail Training Shetland, commented: “The event will provide an opportunity for young people who have experienced COVID-19 restrictions to participate in sail training in the build up to and during the event in 2023. They will become part of the international sailing community, developing new skills, increasing self-awareness and resilience, and creating lasting friendships.”

The successful Lerwick bid partners are also delighted with the announcement:

Steven Coutts, Leader of Shetland Islands Council: “It is tremendous to get a final confirmation of this news. We have a strong history of delivering memorable Tall Ships Races here in Shetland; they really hold a special place in the memories of so many in our community.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Shetland’s rich maritime heritage and promote Shetland internationally. It will provide a valuable boost to our economy and community as we move into recovery and renewal.”

Sandra Laurenson is Interim Chairman of Shetland Tall Ships Limited: “It is very exciting to have the opportunity to bring the spectacular Tall Ships Races back to Lerwick. With just over two years to go, there is plenty to do, and, building on our experience of the two previous visits, we’ll now be establishing organising committees, appointing a project manager, fund-raising and developing a programme of events and entertainment for islanders, ships’ crews and visitors.

“The event is a great opportunity to rebuild and we very much look forward to working with the community on the broad appeal of the Tall Ships Races event.”

Captain Calum Grains, Port Authority Chief Executive: “The announcement of the Tall Ships’ return would be great news at any time, but particularly so during the gradual recovery from the pandemic, and it gives Shetland something exciting and positive to look forward to, and contributes to the promise of better times ahead.

“The colourful visit will provide a major event for the community, a showcase for island products and culture, a boost for the economy and enhance Lerwick’s international reputation as a tall ships-friendly port.”

Sail Training International Chief Operating Officer, Alan James, outlined some of the reasons Lerwick was successful: “With a rich maritime history, shared values of international friendship and understanding, and a strong record staging events, we look forward to Lerwick welcoming the Tall Ships fleet in spectacular style once again.”

Other host ports for the 2023 race include Den Helder (The Netherlands), Hartlepool, (UK), and Fredrikstad (Norway).


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