A TALL ship from Hartlepool has returned to the town after a successful performance in a summertime race.
The Black Diamond of Durham, a class C ship from Hartlepool, had been competing in the 2013 Tall Ship Races event from Aarhus, in Denmark, to Helsinki in Finland, and then from Riga in Latvia, to Szczecin in Poland.
The vessel finished fourth in class in both legs of the race to the delight of skipper, Calvyn Whitehand, from Hartlepool.
Calvyn, 32, said: “In the first race from Aarhus to Helsinki, we finished fourth out of 35 in our class, and 11th overall out of 105 competing ships.
“Then in the second race, we again finished fourth in class out of 30 and came 10th overall out of 92, which was pleasing.
“Overall, it was a fairly steady race for us, although we had to compete with the usual big seas and high winds.”
In between the two races, the crew sailed from Helsinki to Riga for the start of the second leg of the race.
There was, however, a dramatic moment during the first leg of the race in early July when the Black Diamond of Durham responded to a Mayday call from the Norwegian vessel Wyvern, which was sinking south of Sweden.
All of the crew were safely air-lifted, but tragically one of the three crew members, Koen van Gogh, from the nearby Wylde Swan, which had also answered the Mayday call, became trapped when he went on board to help and was lost at sea.
The three Wylde Swan crew members went on to try to reduce the water level using pumps supplied by the rescue services, but sadly Koen Van Gogh did not make it back.
Calvyn said it was a traumatic moment for his crew, who were on stand-by for the Mayday call but didn’t have to take part in the rescue attempt.
Calvyn said: “The incident was quite traumatic for the crew.
“We eventually were stood down and the news came through that the boat was lost and that one person had sadly lost their life. It was very sad.”
The 10-man Black Diamond crew left Hartlepool Marina on June 24 to compete in this year’s Tall Ships Races event and returned to town on Saturday afternoon, one day ahead of schedule.
This year, the Black Diamond of Durham crew was made up of a Russian, a Canadian, a Spaniard, a Swede plus others from across the Tees Valley taking turns on board the ship over the past couple of months, and Rachael Carroll, from Hartlepool, who joined the Black Diamond for the final leg home to Hartlepool Marina.
The Black Diamond of Durham is now undergoing routine repairs and maintenance at Hartlepool Marina before heading off to Amsterdam in two weeks’ time for a charter event involving other tall ships.
Calvyn said the crew will then be competing again in the Tall Ships Races in the North Sea next summer.