Black Diamond crew shines after Sunderland Tall Ships Races adventure

As voyages go, it’s not the longest, but for the crew of the Black Diamond of Durham, the journey to be part of Sunderland Tall Ships Races is one which will stay with them forever.

The class C ship is based in Hartlepool and set off from its marina to Whitby, Runswick Bay, back to Hartlepool and on to Newcastle, covering 128 nautical miles as it finally docked in Wearside.

Skipper Cal Whitehand pictured as Hartlepool's Black Diamond arrives at the Port of Sunderland.

Skipper Cal Whitehand pictured as Hartlepool's Black Diamond arrives at the Port of Sunderland.

It has been manned by a five-strong team from Sunderland University in a trip organised with its students’ union, with its skipper Cal Whitehand steering them on course to be part of the four-day celebration, which gets under way today.

The 13.50m-long ship, which has a height of 16.43m, arrived on Monday night with its team: Daynor Guerin, 22, from Hartlepool, a maths education student; Claire Arkell, 22, from North Shields, who has just graduated from a video, photography and digital imagery degree; Kerry Ransome, from Hebburn, who is studying adult nursing, Tuan Dang, 22, from Vietnam, and Vlad Gherghe, 25, from Romania, who are both studying tourism and hospitality.

All were strangers before taking up their role on the ship, which is now berthed in Hudson Dock in the Port of Sunderland.

The students answered a call from the university and union after they commissioned the boat, which also took part in the Hartlepool Tall Ships Races in 2010, to join in the event.

Tall Ships came to Hartlepool before and since then I really wanted to do something like this.

Daynor Guerin

Daynor said: “Tall Ships came to Hartlepool before and since then I really wanted to do something like this.

“A few of my friends have done it before as well.

“It’s been really good and just being with people as well, it’s like we’ve been a little family.

“It’s been nice to be sailing, but also know it’s part of the Tall Ships.

“It’s definitely got a festival feel to it and it’s nice to see all the vessels in and I think it’s going to be a great few days.

“It’s also been great to meet some of the other students.”

Undergraduates from the university’s London campus also joined in, travelling on the Atyla from Greenwich in the capital to Sunderland.

Adam Gawne, of the students’ union, is also policy and campaigns senior officer for the university.

He said: “As the university is a major partner in the Tall Ships Races, we wanted to engage our students in the activities and so we commissioned the Black Diamond to take five students on a delivery voyage and help the students in their future careers and their employment skills.”

With the help of the Black Diamond, the team has gained their RYA Start Yachting course and certificate.

For more information about the ship, visit its Facebook page.