Flags come out for Hartlepool tall ship’s grand return

The flags were out as Hartlepool’s award-winning tall ship returned to town.

The Black Diamond of Durham is back at the Marina after seven weeks away, competing in this year’s Tall Ships Races.

The crew of the Black Diamond celebrates on the return to Hartlepool on Tuesday. From left, mate Casper Kaars-Sijpesteijn, from Holland, Alex Moriarty, from Hartlepool, Christopher Johnson, from Inverness, Amy Kirby, from Hartlepool, skipper Calvin Whitehand and Jessica Clarke, from London.

The crew of the Black Diamond celebrates on the return to Hartlepool on Tuesday. From left, mate Casper Kaars-Sijpesteijn, from Holland, Alex Moriarty, from Hartlepool, Christopher Johnson, from Inverness, Amy Kirby, from Hartlepool, skipper Calvin Whitehand and Jessica Clarke, from London.

And what a result it was for the ten-strong crew, led by skipper Calvin Whitehand.

The 45ft class C vessel took overall first place in her category, while Calvin, 33, is the longest-serving skipper in the Tall Ships Races fleet.

Black Diamond also took fourth in her first race from Belfast to Aelsund in Norway, and third in the second race from Kristiansand, in Norway to Aalborg, in Denmark.

And to top off a memorable return to port yesterday, Calvin’s mum Sonia Nelson and his partner Rachel Carroll were there to greet him.

The ship has been racing for nearly 20 years and Calvin has done 16 to date. It is the biggest race on the planet and we have a local crew in it

Barry Nelson, owner of the Black Diamond of Durham

Sonia celebrated her 67th birthday on the very day her son returned to port.

She said: “I got my birthday present with his return. I never know whether to cry when he’s away or when he returns home, so I do both.”

Calvin said: “It’s been a great trip and the crew have been great as well.”

Calvin’s partner Rachel Carroll, said: “I am really proud of what they have done.”

Ship owner Barry Nelson said: “The ship has been racing for nearly 20 years and Calvin has done 16 to date. It is the biggest race on the planet and we have a local crew in it.”

Amy Kirby, 18, from West Park, Hartlepool, was part of the crew and said one of the highlights was getting onto the prize-giving stage at Aalborg and accepting the trophy for Black Diamond’s win.

The rest of the crew included Alex Moriarty, 17, from Hartlepool, as well as others from Scotland and London.

Alex said: “It was really good fun and it was something different.”