First vessel signed up for start of Tall Ships Race 2018 in Sunderland

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Sunderland has signed its first ship to take part in next summer’s Tall Ships Races in the city.

International training ship Atyla is setting course for the Tall Ships Races 2018 when the event arrives in Sunderland for the first time in the city’s history.

The host port event is in Sunderland from Wednesday, July 11, until Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Then, following a parade of sail along the coastline, the participants will head out across the North Sea and race to Esbjerg in Denmark.

The city council’s portfolio holder for culture, Coun John Kelly said: “The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 will be one of the biggest events the city has ever seen.

“Attracting visitors from across the country and beyond it is set to be a fantastic opportunity for the city to re-affirm its friendly welcoming reputation.

“We would like everyone to save the dates and join in to make it an occasion the city can be proud of.”

The races in 2018 start in Sunderland and then proceed to Esbjerg before heading to Stavanger, in Norway, and finishing in Harlingen, in the Netherlands.

Director of Tall ships Races 2018 in Sunderland, Michelle Daurat, said: “Working with Port of Sunderland we will be hosting a fantastic four day event with everything from tall ships, cultural activities and exhibitions to parades, live entertainment and of a course spectacular fireworks too.

“We are also working hard to make sure there will be hundreds of opportunities for people to get involved.

“With everything from sailing in the races and sponsoring trainees to volunteering on-shore and corporate event opportunities we hope to have as many people and businesses from the city as possible helping to deliver this world-class event.”

The ATYLA ship is operated by Atyla International Training Ship Foundation, a non-for-profit organisation that provides experiences specially designed to nurture the development of responsible leaders, encourage individuals to become proactive team players, and create respectful, open-minded members of society.

Captain of ATYLA, Rodrigo de la Serna, said: “Atyla is one of the very few handmade wooden-hulled tall ships in the world that still operates.

“An original design inspired on the schooners of the 19th century, she looks like something out of a pirate movie.

“We are really looking forward to coming to Sunderland for the Tall Ships Races in 2018.

“It is a new port for us and there is something special about sailing to somewhere new to see new things and meet new people, it’s all part of the adventure of sailing and I hope as many people as possible can come along and share that adventure.”