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Shetland beats competition to host Tall Ships Races in 2023

The Tall Ships Races will return to Lerwick in 2023
The Tall Ships Races will return to Lerwick in 2023

Tall ships will sail into Lerwick Harbour again after Shetland has been selected to host the spectacular races for a third time.

The ports for the 2023 Tall Ships Races have been selected with Lerwick the only Scottish location on the list.

Previously Shetland was chosen to host the event in 1999 and 2011.

The other locations announced today are Den Helder in the Netherlands, Hartlepool and Fredrikstad in Norway.

The event, dubbed Europe’s largest, free family festival, will visit the islands instead of other locations like Aberdeen, where the event has also proven a real draw.

Ships will be in Lerwick from July 26-29.

The bid, prepared by Shetland Islands Council in partnership with Lerwick Port Authority, will be delivered by Shetland Tall Ships Limited.

Races hold a ‘special place’ in memories

Steven Coutts, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “It is tremendous to get a final confirmation of this news.

“We have a strong history of delivering memorable Tall Ships Races here in Shetland; they really hold a special place in the memories of so many in our community.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Shetland’s rich maritime heritage and promote Shetland internationally.

“It will provide a valuable boost to our economy and community as we move into recovery and renewal.”

The Russian full rigged ship Kruzenshthern berths at Lerwick in 1999 as part of the races.

Plenty of work to do over course of next two years

Sandra Laurenson, interim chairman of Shetland Tall Ships Limited, added: “It is very exciting to have the opportunity to bring the spectacular Tall Ships Races back to Lerwick.

“With just over two years to go, there is plenty to do, and, building on our experience of the two previous visits, we’ll now be establishing organising committees, appointing a project manager, fund-raising and developing a programme of events and entertainment for islanders, ships’ crews and visitors.

“The event is a great opportunity to rebuild and we very much look forward to working with the community on the broad appeal of the Tall Ships Races event.”

Races return to Shetland key in recovery from pandemic

Captain Calum Grains, Lerwick Port Authority chief executive, welcomed the return of the races.

He said: “The announcement of the Tall Ships’ return would be great news at any time, but particularly so during the gradual recovery from the pandemic, and it gives Shetland something exciting and positive to look forward to, and contributes to the promise of better times ahead.

“The colourful visit will provide a major event for the community, a showcase for island products and culture, a boost for the economy and enhance Lerwick’s international reputation as a tall ships-friendly port.”

Warm welcome expected

Tall Ships Races chief operating officer Alan James said he is excited to bring the races to the North Sea.

“We are thrilled to welcome back old friends of the series and are confident these ports host the international Tall Ships fleet in spectacular fashion with their longstanding maritime legacies,” he said.

“We have no doubt that these host ports will extend a warm welcome to ships and trainees alike, showcasing our values of international friendship and understanding and the development of young people.

“We look forward to bringing The Tall Ships Races 2023 to the North Sea with great excitement.”

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