Sailing vessel to visit Sunderland ahead of Tall Ships Race

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The two-masted brig Stavros S Niarchos sails into the Port of Sunderland on Thursday afternoon.

The Wear is hosting the Tall Ships Race in 2018 and the Stavros is visiting as part of a series of North Sea cruises she is making this year.

Stavros is the largest brig to have been built in the UK in the last century and was commissioned in 2000. She is 200ft long (197ft/59.4m) and has masts rising to nearly 150ft (148ft/45m).

She is expected to enter the mouth of the Wear at approximately 3pm and berth at Corporation Quay for her four-day visit. She will be open to the public on Saturday 4 July between noon and 5pm.

Public access is via the Low Street entrance (near the Fish Quay). There is no parking within the port estate and only limited parking is available in the Low Street area. Visitors are advised to use city centre car parks.

Councillor John Kelly, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “The City Council, since confirmation was given last year, has begun its planning and preparations for this amazing spectacle of the Tall Ships Race. The council is working with others across the city, region and country to make the Tall Ships a truly great and memorable spectacle.

“Now with this visit of Stavros, people can get an early idea and impression of what we can expect to see in three years time. Stavros is a very impressive vessel and definitely worth seeing.

“She’ll be seen quite clearly from the university and the National Glass Centre, and she is worth a visit on Saturday for her open day.”

In 2018, Sunderland can expect to be hosting around 70 tall ships from across the world that will berth along the riverfront and in the Port of Sunderland.

Tim Law, Marketing and Operations Director from the Tall Ships Youth Trust, said: “Stavros is currently on a series of North Sea cruises. She’s always been a very popular sight and is a great crowd-puller. We have our open day in Sunderland on Saturday 4 July between noon and 5pm.

“The public are very welcome to come and see us. Admission is free, but donations to the Tall Ships Youth Trust is very welcome. If you’re visiting, you will get the chance explore her decks and learn all about a modern day brig as well as finding out about our work supporting Young People through Sail Training.

“There will be a volunteer crew on hand to show you around, answer questions and share past sailing experiences they’ve had on board Stavros. Do join us.”

The Tall Ships Races, which previously drew large crowds in Hartlepool and Tyneside, attract dozens of sailing ships from around the world. It is being held in Belfast this year, with Sunderland hosting the next gathering in 2018.

Matthew Hunt, Port Director, said: “Along with the rest of the city, the port has begun its planning and preparations for 2018. We’re no strangers to smaller sailing vessels, but large tall ships are rarer, the most recent probably being the sail training vessels Malcolm Miller and Sir Winston Churchill – some years ago.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing Stavros and seeing her in Sunderland is certainly going to give people a great starter and taster for what we can expect to see in July 2018 when many, many more tall ships come to visit us.”

Visitors to the ship on Saturday should enter the Port of Sunderland by the Low Street Gate. There is no parking available on-site and limited street parking in the immediate area. Drivers are advised to park in the city centre - at St Mary’s or Sunniside multi-storeys - and walk for ten minutes to Low Street.