Black Diamond is the latest vessel to join Tall Ships Races in Sunderland

Black Diamond of Durham and skipper Calvyn Whitehand
Black Diamond of Durham and skipper Calvyn Whitehand

An award-winning North East ship has become the fourth to sign up for the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland next year.

The Black Diamond of Durham joins the TS Maybe, STS Atyla and STS Lord Nelson for next summer’s spectacular event.

Hartlepool's Black Diamond sailing vessel arrives at Sunderland Corporation Quay.

Hartlepool's Black Diamond sailing vessel arrives at Sunderland Corporation Quay.

Sunderland will welcome magnificent ships and huge crowds from Wednesday, July 11 to Saturday, July 14, 2018. Spectators can expect everything from the action-packed crew parade to the parade of sail.

The Hartlepool-based Black Diamond is the latest vessel to sign up for the huge event.

She is a class C 45ft vessel, has competed every year in the races since 1997 without fail, and has twice been the winner of its class in the races as well as of the Tall Ships Sailing Regatta at Blyth last year.

Black Diamond owner Barry Nelson described the ship’s involvement next year as “good for the area, good for the UK - it is an international event - and good for the youngsters too.

It is good for the area, good for the UK - it is an international event - and good for the youngsters too. We do take a lot of youngsters from the North East and give them the experience

Barry Nelson

“We do take a lot of youngsters from the North East and give them the experience.”

Skipper Calvyn Whitehand said the North East crowds always gave the ship fantastic support and reflected on the year when the ship sailed into its home port of Hartlepool in 2010 to take part in the town’s leg of the races that year.

“The local crowds were tremendous. There were 300 people around the lock.” Blyth also hosted the Tall Ships Regatta last year and Calvyn said: “We got wonderful support there as well.”

He is expecting just as warm a welcome in Sunderland and the ship is no stranger to the city.

Black Diamond of Durham sailing out to join Tall Ship Races last year.
Skipper Calvyn Whitehand and his crew

Black Diamond of Durham sailing out to join Tall Ship Races last year. Skipper Calvyn Whitehand and his crew

Just last year, Black Diamond was in Sunderland when she sailed into the mouth of the Wear to welcome Princess Anne on a visit to the region.

Calvyn introduced four youngsters to the princess at a reception to launch the Sail Training Ambassador programme, which aims to encourage young people to take part in the event when it comes to the city.

Black Diamond has also become a recognised Royal Yachting Association training school which means it can train people in how to become an active member of the crew in everything from ropes and steering to below-deck duties - all with a RYA certificate at the end of it.

And in a busy period for the ship, it is also getting ready to take part in this year’s Tall Ships Races.

It will set off in June for the event which takes in Halmstad in Sweden, Kotka and Turku in Finland, Klaipeda in Lithuania, and Szczecin in Poland.

Those wanting to find out more about the Sunderland leg of next year’s races should visit the new website at tallshipssunderland.com