2018 Tall Ships Race in Sunderland

Stuart Forster looks at the 2018 Tall Ships Race in Sunderland.

Sunderland in North East of England was the starting point for the 2018 Tall Ships Race.

More than fifty tall ships docked in the Port of Sunderland ahead of Saturday 14 July 2018 when the vessels sailed to the Danish port of Esbjerg on the first leg of the race.

A glorious summer day sees ships docked on the River Wear in Sunderland during the 2018 Tall Ships Race.
A glorious summer day sees ships docked on the River Wear in Sunderland during the 2018 Tall Ships Race.

tall ships race in Sunderland

I took the opportunity to visit the Port of Sunderland to board and look around several of the tall ships. The participating vessels are divided into four categories. The largest ships (Class A) are square-riggers of over 40 metres in length.

On the Wear. The Fryderyk Chopin, one of the Class A vessels participating in the 2018 Tall Ships Race.
On the Wear. The Fryderyk Chopin, one of the Class A vessels participating in the 2018 Tall Ships Race.

Some real beauties docked on the River Wear. Visiting Sunderland for the Tall Ships Race provided some outstanding photo opportunities. With the sky blue and the sun shining, the ships and their crews proved a joy to photograph.

Firework shows, musical entertainment and street performers features among the programme of free entertainment while the tall ships were on Wearside.

No, this isn't the latest fashion in Sunderland.! Musicians on the way to a performance. The women are wearing historic costumes.
No, this isn’t the latest fashion in Sunderland! These women are musicians on the way to a performance and wearing historic costumes.

Cirque Bijou world record attempt

Members of Cirque Bijou attempt to break a world record on the evening of Friday 13 July. Hopefully they were not superstitious.

Johanne Humblet, Phoebe and Chris Bullzini set out to walk a 220-metre long, inclined high wire reached a height of 30 metres. They did not have a safety net.

Cirque Bijou will be using something very different to this rope, coiled on the deck of a sailing ship, during their world record attempt!
Cirque Bijou will be using something very different to this rope, coiled on the deck of a sailing ship, during their world record attempt.

Ships on the River Wear

The biggest ship docked in Sunderland during the Tall Ships Race was Mir, a Russian ship whose home port is St Petersburg. Berthed on the Corporation Quay she was 94.80 metres long and had a crew of up to 200 sailors.

Members of Mir, the Russian ship that is the largest vessel docked at the Port of Sunderland during the 2018 Tall Ships Race.
Members of Mir, the Russian ship that is the largest vessel docked at the Port of Sunderland during the 2018 Tall Ships Race.

Several of the ships docked on the River Wear were relatively new vessels. The Alexander von Humboldt II resembles one of the windjammers that sailed the high seas a century and a half ago but was launched in 2011. The ship provides sailing opportunities to people of all ages. I managed to photograph the crew as the paraded through the port.

Playing to the camera! The crew of the Alexander von Humboldt II enjoying participating in the 2018 Tall Ships Race during a parade in Sunderland.
Playing to the camera! The crew of the Alexander von Humboldt II enjoying participating in the 2018 Tall Ships Race during a parade in Sunderland.

It’s now hard to imagine the banks of the River Wear being a hive of industry. Yet, by tonnage of ships launched, Sunderland was the biggest ship building town in the world into the 1950s. During World War Two, 27 per cent of all the merchant ships launched in the United Kingdom slipped down ramps into the Wear.

That story is told in the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. To coincide with the 2018 Tall Ships Race the museum held the exhibition Naval Heroes. It included a painting of Admiral Lord Nelson, loaned from the National Portrait Gallery in London.

A mural depicting shipbuilding in Sunderland. It stands by the bank of the River Wear.
A mural depicting shipbuilding in Sunderland. It stands by the bank of the River Wear.

The 2018 Tall Ships Race

The tall ships left their moorings for the Parade of Sail on the afternoon of 14 July. The vessels departed on the first leg of the race from a position close to Roker Pier.

As well as its call at The 2018 Tall Ships Race saw the vessels dock in the Norwegian port of Stavanger and Harlingen in the Netherlands..

Sailing ships docked by the National Glass Centre in Sunderland during the Tall Ships Race,.
Sailing ships docked by the University of Sunderland and National Glass Centre during the Tall Ships Race.

Travel by Metro and rail

St Peters is the closest Metro station to the National Glass Centre and the sailing ships that docked by the University of Sunderland’s Sir Tom Cowie Campus. From there it was possible to walk across the Wearmouth Bridge to visit the ships in the Hudson Dock and along the south bank of the River Wear. There was also the option of disembarking at Sunderland Central Station, which is within walking distance of the Port of Sunderland.

Makkum or Mackem? A Dutch flag flies from the stern of the Wylde Swan, from Makkum, during theTall Ships Race at Sunderland . Sunderland's inhabitants are nicknamed Mackems.
Makkum or Mackem? A Dutch flag flies from the stern of the Wylde Swan, from Makkum, during theTall Ships Race at Sunderland . Sunderland’s inhabitants are nicknamed Mackems.

Hotels in Sunderland

 

Sunshine on Wearside. 'Sun' appears in Sunderland 365 days a year. 366 during leap years.
Sunshine on Wearside. ‘Sun’ appears in Sunderland 365 days a year. 366 during leap years. Really.

Food and drink

Stalls and trucks serving food and drink were located along the waterfront and next to St Peters Metro station.

Sailing ships, including the Zenobe Gramme, at the Hudson Dock in the Port of Sunderland.
Sailing ships, including the Zenobe Gramme, at the Hudson Dock in the Port of Sunderland.

Map of Sunderland

The map below shows the location of Sunderland by the mouth of the River Wear in North East England:

Google Map showing Sunderland in North East England.

Further information

The See It Do It Sunderland has information about tourist attractions and places to stay on Wearside.

See the Visit England website for further ideas about things to do and see in the country’s north-east.

Illustrating photography is by Why Eye Photography, a north-east based photography company specialising in travel, food and drink, events and portrait photography. Want to commission a shoot? Get in touch by calling 07947 587136 or via the Why Eye Photography website.

Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning journalist. He is based in the north-east of England and available for commissions.

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Blissful blue sky. Ships on the River Wear during the Tall Ships Race at Sunderland.
Blissful blue sky and a beautiful summer’s day. Ships on the River Wear during the Tall Ships Race at Sunderland.

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