Hartlepool's own tall ship keeps its royal appointment as Princess Royal visits region

Calvyn Whitehand

Calvyn Whitehand

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Hartlepool’s tall ship kept its appointment with royalty today.

The Black Diamond of Durham, which is based at Hartlepool Marina, sailed into the mouth of the Wear just after 11am in time to welcome Princess Anne on a visit to the region.

The Black Diamond of Durham arrives on the Wear today

The Black Diamond of Durham arrives on the Wear today

The Princess Royal is on Wearside today as part of the build-up to the Tall Ships Races' visit to Sunderland in two years' times.

Black Diamond skipper Calvyn Whitehand and his crew were joined by Captain Steve Moorhouse, of Sunderland's adopted ship HMS Ocean, his second-in-command Commander Nick Wood and four young trainees.

Brothers Keiran Boyce, 17, and Saul Cranston, 14, from Houghton; 15-year-old Amy West, from Newcastle, and Sophie Jordan, 19, from Durham, will all be taking part in the Tall Ships Races when they come to Sunderland.

""It was all right coming up, but there wasn't a lot of wind," said Calvyn, who had off from Hartlepool at 7am today.

Calvyn Whitehand gives trainee Sophie Jordan some tips

Calvyn Whitehand gives trainee Sophie Jordan some tips

"We got to do a small amount of sailing, but it was mostly motoring, because we had a timetable to stick to."

Even though the trainees didn't get as much hands-on experience as Calvyn had hoped, he believes today's trip will still have been a valuable experience.

"It just goes to show that if they are keen to learn, keen to get involved with a project, what they can do together," he said.

Calvyn introduced the four youngsters to Princess Anne at a reception at Sunderland's National Glass Centre this afternoon to launch the Sail Training Ambassador programme, which aims to encourage young people to take part in the prestigious celebration of sailing when it comes to the city.

"She was asking them about the Tall Ships, about all the different boats and what experience they have had in the past," he said.

"It has been a brilliant day - to get someone like the Princess Royal along is very excisting and she will be a great mabassador for the scheme."

Sail Training is an adventure activity, which includes far more than sailing instruction.

Participants are required to confront demanding challenges, both physical and emotional, and is run with the aim of inspiring self-confidence and personal responsibility.

It promotes an acceptance of others, whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks.

Those who undertake Sail Training on Tall Ships generally find it a positive life-changing experience.

The programme will give nominated representatives from schools and community organisations across the city and region the chance to undergo sail training in the build up to the race event at which they will be given berths on a variety of competing vessels.

Paul Bishop, head of the race directorate at Sail Training International, added: “Sail Training International’s charitable objectives are to promote international friendship and understanding and we organise these spectacular races to give young people the opportunity to experience a sail training adventure of a lifetime.

"We fully support Sunderland’s initiative to run a Sail Training Ambassador programme, which is an incredible opportunity for young people in the region to take part in the world-class Tall Ships Races.

"I would encourage anyone aged between 15 and 25, with a sense of adventure, to find out more and get involved.

“You won’t regret it.”