Organised by Sail Training International, The Tall Ships Races will be welcomed by the annual Belfast Maritime Festival. This is the third time that Belfast has hosted the races, having previously welcomed the ships in 1991 and 2009.
Both previous visits were incredibly popular; in 2009 around 800,000 spectators came to the four-day event, when a flotilla of 40 ships berthed along the city’s quays.
In 2015 Belfast hopes to attract 500,000 people, with another 500,000 watching the ships arrive and leave along the Northern Ireland and Irish coasts. The ships will be berthed in and around Belfast Harbour and the Titanic Quarter area.
Sail Training International revealed the host ports for The Tall Ships Races 2015 at this year’s annual conference in Toulon. The winning ports are Belfast (UK), Aalesund (Norway), Kristiansand (Norway) and Aalborg (Denmark).
The Tall Ships Races summer series is Sail Training International’s flagship event and the largest mass participation sailing event organised annually for young people with over 6,000 trainees taking part each year.
Commenting on the 2015 host ports, Sail Training International’s Head of Race Directorate, Paul Bishop, said: “The Tall Ships Races 2015 will offer the participating crews an exciting race series that combines challenging race legs and a cruise-in-company in one of the most beautiful cruising areas in the world, the Norwegian archipelago. All four race ports have successfully hosted The Tall Ships Races before and 2015 promises to be an excellent event.”
The Tall Ships Races 2015 will begin in Belfast on the 2nd July and finish in Aalborg on 4th August. Commenting on the excitement of becoming the opening host port for the race series, The Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, said:
“The return of The Tall Ships Races is yet another very real endorsement of Belfast’s ability – our now globally recognized ‘can do’ ability – to deliver world class events, and once again contributes to our reputation internationally, as well as adding to our value as a tourism destination and helping our citizens take real pride in what Belfast can offer both to locals and visitors alike.”
Sail Training International’s core mission as a registered charity is centred around the development and education of young people of all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and abilities by harnessing the skills gained through the sail training experience.
The charity also organises other sailing regattas with no age restriction and is currently developing events set to take place outside of Europe in North America and Australasia.