A date with Royalty for Hartlepool's very own tall ship

Hartlepool's very own tall ship had a special appointment with Royalty today.

Monday, 9th May 2016, 5:00 am
Black Diamond skipper Calvin Whitehand, second right, with his crew from the 2015 Tall Ships Races.

The Black Diamond of Durham, which is based at Hartlepool Marina, sailed to Sunderland for the visit of the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, to the region.

It was all part of the build-up to the year when Wearside will be hosting the prestigious Tall Ships Races in 2018.

Black Diamond, which is skippered by Calvin Whitehand, was tasked with taking five sailing trainees on the short journey from Hartlepool to Sunderland today.

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Then, she was due to berth opposite the National Glass Centre, where Her Royal Highness was attending the launch of the brand new Sail Training Ambassador programme.

But there was an extra privilege for Calvin as he was due to introduce the trainees to the Princess.

Black Diamond has a big part on the tall ships scene, said Calvin.

She is the only tall ship from the region and has been competing in the races every year since 1997 without missing a year.

She’s back on the competition trail again this year and sets off soon for Antwerp.

But in the meantime, Calvin was delighted to be a part of today’s Royal occasion and said: “It is nice to be invited to this event. It is part of keeping the friendship going.

“We took Sunderland people on the delivery leg of last year’s races and it is good that we can work with them.”

One of Calvin’s highlights, in his many years of tall ships, was Hartlepool hosting the races in 2010. They attracted 970,000 visitors, nearly 60 ships, and it was the largest free event held in England that year.

Now, the region is set for a double boost when Blyth hosts the Tall Ships regatta this year, and Sunderland the races themselves.

Sunderland has been selected to host the start of the world-famous Tall Ships Races from July 11 to July 14, 2018. The race travels from Sunderland, to Esbjerg, in Denmark, Stavanger, in Norway, finishing in Harlingen, in The Netherlands, and is organised by Sail Training International.

Calvin added: “It is nice that it is coming back to the North East.”

Paul Bishop, Head of the Race Directorate at Sail Training International, said the Sail Training Ambassador programme was “an incredible opportunity for young people in the region to take part in the world-class Tall Ships Races”.