MORE than 60 private racing yachts sailed into Hartlepool with around 150 crew members from all over the Netherlands.
The yachts – which average about 36ft in length – are members of a Dutch coastal sailing association, the Nederlandsche Vereeniging Van Kustzeilers.
The huge fleet sailed its way to Hartlepool Marina as part of a friendly race between various North Sea ports which the association holds each year.
They arrived at the marina throughout Monday and yesterday, and were due to leave today, heading off to race to Newcastle and then on to Scotland.
The visit to Hartlepool was hosted by Hartlepool Marina, which provided the berths, and Hartlepool Borough Council, which was to welcome the skippers and crew at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience at an event last night.
Allan Henderson, Hartlepool Marina director, added: “It was such a pleasure to welcome the yachts to Hartlepool – I’m sure the crews will have been impressed.
“Our town has one of the largest marinas in the UK and the fact that we can accommodate over 60 visiting ships further enhances our reputation as a ‘can do’ town which we established when we hosted the Tall Ships in 2010.”
Hartlepool’s Mayor Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I’m delighted that the crews have chosen to visit Hartlepool this year.
“It was a great opportunity for the crews to see the many opportunities our town offers in terms of tourism and business and to hear about the work we are doing to lay the foundation of our future prosperity through the Hartlepool Vision.
“I’m sure they will spread the word when they return home.” Members of the public were expected to be able to wave off the visiting ships as they leave through the marina lock gates between 11am and 12.30pm today.
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