HARTLEPOOL’S very own tall ship returned home to a heroes’ welcome after achieving double-diamond success.
The Black Diamond entered the lock gates at the town’s marina to jubilant crowds after coming first in two of the recent Tall Ships Races.
The 10-berth, 45ft vessel took pole position in the Class C section of the race from Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, to Stavanger, in Norway.
The victory for the 10-strong crew came just days after the boat won its section in a similar race from Waterford, in Ireland, to Greenock, in Scotland.
The wins were the first in the Black Diamond’s 15-year history of competing in Tall Ships Races.
Proud skipper Calvin Whitehand, 29, who lives in the Murray Street area of Hartlepool, said: “We came home to about 50 friends and family and it was a great reception.
“It’s the first time we have had two firsts and it was nice to be a part of it.
“We had a drink to celebrate on Thursday night.”
Even so, Calvin said it was disappointing to have come fourth in a third race in the series, from Stavanger to Halmstad, in Sweden.
He added: “We got a buzz from the wins, but I suppose we got a bit trigger-happy and when we got fourth we were a bit
“The pressure was on and we knew we could have done it.
“We missed out by about two hours and the wind was a factor.
“We had no wind, but the rest of the fleet did.
“But the two firsts are still pretty cool.”
Calvin said: “On the way home, we were getting 55 knots of wind and 20ft waves in the Baltic Sea.
“At one point we had to turn back and do a 60-mile detour.
“Every leg has its problems, but the main thing is the weather.
“During the actual race, there wasn’t much wind, but sometimes that can be worse than too much wind.”
Calvin, who is originally from Cornwall and used to work on a building site before moving to Hartlepool 12 years ago, said there could now be plans to enter the Black Diamond in a small ships race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight next month.
But for now he is loving being back on dry land after his time at sea.
He has a week off before returning to working on the vessel, which is owned by Barry Nelson, and resuming weekend trips from Hartlepool Marina to Whitby and other routes.