The Tall Ships Races Lerwick 2023
The Tall Ships Races is Europe’s largest free, family festival, held every summer in European waters, offering an exciting racecourse for a magnificent fleet of participating vessels, crewed by thousands of young people.
A biennial event first organised in the late 1950s, the Tall Ships Race allows some of the most impressive traditional sailing ships in Europe to gather together as an ocean-going fleet, creating memorable adventures for their crews and dramatic sights for spectators at destination and departure ports. The tall ships are primarily sail-training vessels, giving youngsters between 15 and 25 an experience of working together as a crew in testing conditions but also showing off the full glory of the square-rigged barques, brigs and schooners that make up the assembled fleet. This year’s event sees the race criss-crossing the North Sea from Holland to Hartlepool in the north of England, then across to Fredrikstad in Norway. From there, the ships head north-west, bound for Shetland, aiming to arrive on or soon after 26 July. As with previous Tall Ships Race visits to Lerwick in 1999 and 2011, the harbourside and town will be a buzz of activity and sights with various events and entertainment organised shoreside, as well as opportunities to see some of the craft up close. Around 50 ships and hundreds of trainees and crews from Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Netherlands and the UK are expected, among them Shetland’s own, much-treasured sail-training ship The Swan, a restored, gaff-rigged 1900 Fifie herring drifter. The climax of the visit is a parade of sail scheduled for Saturday 29th July, after which the tall ships will disappear over the horizon bound for Kristiansand at the mouth of the Baltic Sea.
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