HARTLEPOOL’S very own tall ship will be back on home waters later today after scooping a double-first.
The Black Diamond, based at the town’s marina, will return home triumphantly after coming first in two tall ships races.
It’s crew are hoping for a warm welcome from awaiting crowds following their success.
The boat, whose skipper is town man Calvin Whitehand, 29, has been competing in the Tall Ships Races for the past 15 years and the two events are the first time it has won the top position.
The 10-berth, 45ft vessel won first place in the Class C section on the Tall Ships race from Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, to Stavanger, in Norway.
A 10-strong crew steered the boat to success and won the event after completing the race in 36 hours.
The boat beat off stiff competition from 13 other vessels.
The victory came just days after the Black Diamond won a similar race from Waterford, in Ireland, to Greenock in Scotland.
A crew of eight manned the vessel and finished this race in 36 hours, beating competition from 12 other vessels.
The ship’s owner, Barry Nelson, said: “It’s fantastic, it’s the best result we’ve ever had.
“We put Hartlepool on the map internationally.
“The crew put a lot of work in.
“We always fly the flag – literally -– we always have a Hartlepool flag on board and go as far as Russia.
“It would be good if people could come down to the marina and cheer the crew in.
“It is a massive achievement for the town.”
The Black Diamond also came fourth in the third race in the series, from Stavanger to Halmstad, in Sweden.
Mr Nelson, 63, added the crew had to overcome poor weather on their way back to the UK and had to battle 20ft waves.
The ship came second in its class in last year’s Hartlepool Tall Ships Races.
The boat is expected to enter the marina’s lock gates around 5pm today.
l The Tall Ships tourism effect: Page 7