Why Plymouth should host the Tall Ships Race

Plymouth Tall Ships Races

2019 is a long way off but already bids are open for cities to host a leg of the tall ships races. The annual Tall Ships races organised by Sail Training International are one of the largest, free, family based festivals in Europe.

Sail Training International, organisers of the annual international Tall Ships Races and Regattas, are continually putting together new events, contracting host cities, planning routes and securing sponsors. Races are planned four years in advance and the location of the European Tall Ships Races, which are held each summer, rotates on a four-year programme – Baltic, North Sea, North West European waters and Biscay/Iberian Peninsula.

The annual Tall Ships Races deliver millions of visitors, attracted by the spirit, atmosphere and activities of the world class festivals held by the host cities.  In 2013 The Baltic Tall Ships Races attracted:

  • Over nine million visitors
  • Over 100 vessels from 67 countries
  • 1,800 media who delivered around five million euros of advertising value.
  • It also delivered an empowering sail training experience to 9,500 sailing trainees, from different backgrounds, and 35 different nationalities through ocean sailing.

The economic impact on the cities, of hosting such an event, speaks for itself.  In Szczecin, Poland – the final port of The Tall Ships Races 2013 – the statistics showed tourists spent up to 114.25 million euros equivalent during the course of the event.

Surveys showed that residents thought the event had improved the image of the city and, as well as bringing in new income for local companies, it made it more attractive to potential new investors.

75% of visitors spent more than two days in the city, with 87% saying they wanted to return.  And an overwhelming 97% of residents said they wanted to see another Tall Ships Race event in their city.

And it’s not just the cities which benefit enormously, Europe’s largest outward bound participatory event provides a life-changing platform for thousands of young people, of all nationalities, to take part each year.

Planning for a new race series starts four years in advance with sea areas and geographical limits being set by the Boards of Directors of Sail Training International’s subsidiary companies, who are responsible for the events.  The Board of Directors will select four or five host cities from those that register their interest. They will look at race course options from the cities that have submitted bids; the commercial pros and cons of each bidding cities will also be taken into account to ensure a successful race series for all.

Plymouth is marketing itself as ‘Britain’s Ocean City’, this moniker not only fits extremely well but is fundamentally true.  Few cities can rival Plymouth’s rich seafaring heritage and it is most certainly one of the top ten natural harbours in the world.

Plymouth is now increasingly known for excellence in education, being at the forefront of marine science and industry and for its exciting annual programme of events and cultural activities, such as the Americas Cup, Round Britain & Ireland race, to the Fastnet Race.

Reading Britain’s Ocean City strategy document it states “Heritage is not just about the past, it’s about the future, not just through the physicality of the place, but also in the way the spirit lives on.”

So what better way than for our proud city to host an international event of a magnitude that would rival and beat that of the Americas Cup we hosted most recently. Imagine Plymouth sound filled with over 100 Tall Ships, crew parades, evening concerts, heritage displays, and parades of sail. Imagine Plymouth school children taking part on those vessels, engaging with nautical education, employment, & training, of them widening their horizons. Imagine the economic benefit to our city, the potential of being part of a race that brings nine million visitors, who are guaranteed to spend across a range of services from hotels & guesthouses to restaurants and other attractions.

We are just 4 years away from 2020, the anniversary of the Mayflower leaving Plymouth for the new world, what better date can there be for hosting the Tall Ships race!

What do you think?  I am keen to hear your views, please comment below or contact me.

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