HARTLEPOOL Marina is preparing to welcome some special Dutch guests – in the form of more than 60 private racing yachts.
The yachts – which average about 36ft in length – are members of a Dutch coastal sailing association, the Nederlandsche Vereeniging Van Kustzeilers.
They are sailing into Hartlepool from all over the Netherlands as part of a friendly race between various North Sea ports, which the association holds each year.
They will arrive at Hartlepool Marina during the day on Monday, June 23 and will leave on Wednesday, June 25 before setting off to race to Newcastle and then on to Scotland.
The visit to Hartlepool is being hosted by Hartlepool Marina, which is providing the berths, and Hartlepool Borough Council, which will welcome the estimated 150 skippers and crew at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience on the Tuesday evening.
Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor, Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, said: “I’m delighted that the crews have chosen to visit Hartlepool this year and I’m sure that local people will turn out to give them a really warm welcome.
“It’s 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.”
Allan Henderson, Hartlepool Marina director, added: “It’s such a pleasure to welcome the yachts to Hartlepool – I’m sure the crews will be 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.”
The Talls Ships Races event in August 2010 saw dozens of ships and almost one million visitors flock to town.
While the yachts are berthed in the marina, the best place for the public to see them is from the Navigation Point car park, at the end nearest to the Lock Office.
Officials say people will also be able to bid farewell to them as the leave through the marina lock gates on Wednesday, June 25 between 11am and 12.30pm.