Sunderland, in the north-east of England, is the starting point for the 2018 Tall Ships Race. More than fifty tall ships were docked in the Port of Sunderland until Saturday 14 July when the vessels set sail to Esbjerg, in Denmark, during the first leg of the race. Thinking of visiting the Tall Ships Race in Sunderland? Take a look at this post.
Visiting the 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.
There are 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 feature among the programme of free entertainment while the tall ships are on Wearside.
Cirque Bijou world record attempt
Members of Cirque Bijou will attempt to break a world record on the evening of Friday 13 July — hopefully they are not superstitious!
At 9.00pm Johanne Humblet plus Phoebe and Chris Bullzini will set out to walk a 220-metre long, inclined high wire that reaches to a height of 30 metres. No, they won’t have a safety net.
Ships on the River Wear
The biggest ship docked in Sunderland during the Tall Ships Race is the Mir, a Russian ship whose home port is St Petersburg. Berthed on the Corporation Quay she is 94.80 metres long and has a crew of up to 200 sailors.
Several of the ships docked on the River Wear are 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.
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. The museum is displaying a painting of Admiral Lord Nelson, loaned from the National Portrait Gallery in London, in the Naval Heroes exhibition that continues until 22 July.
The 2018 Tall Ships Race
The tall ships will leave their moorings for the Parade of Sail on the afternoon of 14 July. The vessels will depart from a position close to Roker Pier at around 5pm.
The first leg of the 2018 Tall Ships Race will see the ships sail to Esbjerg, in Denmark (where they will be docked from 18 to 21 July) before moving on to Stavanger in Norway (26-29 July) then Harlingen in the Netherlands (3-6 August).
Travel by Metro and rail
St Peters is the closest Metro station to the National Glass Centre and the sailing ships docked by the University of Sunderland’s Sir Tom Cowie Campus. From there you can walk across the Wearmouth Bridge to visit the ships in the Hudson Dock and along the south bank of the River Wear. For those, you also have the option of disembarking at Sunderland Central Station, which is within walking distance of the Port of Sunderland.
Driving to see the tall ships in Sunderland
Car parking spaces close to St Peters and the Port of Sunderland will be in high demand during the Tall Ships Race. A park and ride scheme is in operation (pre-booked tickets are priced at £10 a day for up to four people (additional tickets are priced at £4 per person), at six locations across the city (Deptford Terrace, Downhill, Fulwell Quarry, Herrington Country Park, Seaburn Camp, Stadium of Light (Hay Street).
Food and drink
Thinking about where to eat and drink? Stalls and trucks serving food and drink will be located along the waterfront and next to the St Peters Metro station.
Find out more about the programme of events and activities planned in Sunderland during the Tall Ships Race on the Tall Ships Sunderland website.
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.
If you enjoyed this post why not sign up for the free Go Eat Do newsletter? It’s a hassle-free way of getting links to posts on a monthly basis.
‘Like’ the Go Eat Do Facebook page to see more photos and content.