Giant of the seas signs up for Sunderland Tall Ships

Santa Maria Manuela which has signed up for next year's Sunderland Tall Ships leg. Photo: Valery Vasilevskiy.
Santa Maria Manuela which has signed up for next year's Sunderland Tall Ships leg. Photo: Valery Vasilevskiy.

Sunderland is well ahead of schedule for next year’s Tall Ships Races with more ships signed up than expected at this stage.

Three more vessels have confirmed they will be on Wearside for the city’s leg of the 2018 races from Wednesday, July 11, until Saturday, July 14. It takes the total number of confirmations to 24.

To have 24 ships signed up is encouraging and we also have 25 expressions of interest for deck events on the ships

Ian Flannery

Among them is one of the biggest in the tall ship fleet. The 225ft-long Santa Maria Manuela is a class A gaff schooner from Portugal which can take 50 trainees and has a 24-strong permanent crew.

The class C Vahine and class D Rona II are also on board for the first leg of next year’s races.

But the good news goes much further, said Ian Flannery, Project Officer for The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018. He said the public was showing huge interest in holding events on board the visiting ships.

* One person wants to hold an 80th birthday on a ship’s deck.

* Another expression of interest had come from a person in Gibraltar, asking about holding a wedding reception on a visiting vessel.

“It is an ongoing process,” said Ian. “We have got 25 expressions of interest for deck events.”

And as far as interest from the tall ships themselves, it is growing all the time and well ahead of schedule.

Ian said many tall ship teams often don’t make a decision on whether to enter the next year’s events until the sailing season is over.

He added: “Many are currently out at sea and continuing this year’s programme. We would not expect all that many to sign up until perhaps October.”

To have 24 ships already booked up at this stage is very encouraging and Ian added: “We are going to see that at least triple.”

Part of the success, he said, was down to the approach of all of next year’s host ports who were working in partnership to attract vessels. “It is a really joined-up offer.”

Sunderland will be the first leg of the 2018 races Once the fleet leaves, it will be in Esbjerg in Denmark from July 18 to July 21.

Then, the ships will sail the Cruise in Company leg to Stavanger in Norway for a stay from July 26 to July 29.

The last port is Harlingen in Holland and the ships will be there from Augsut 3 to August 6.

To find out more on how to get involved in next year’s event, visit