Fifty ships have already signed up to take part in this summer’s Tall Ships Races, which will see more than 2,000 crew from 12 countries come to Shetland.
Tall ships from as far away as Brazil and Russia will arrive in July, with the Brazilian Cisne Branco sailing the farthest distance, approximately 6,000 nautical miles.
The 74-metre Cisne Branco (white swan), which is based in Rio de Janeiro and has a crew of 83, will be competing in the races against one of world’s largest tall ships, the sail training ship Mir from Russia.
With an impressive hull length of 95 metres (nearly 110 metres including the bowsprit) the Mir, whose home port is St Petersburg, will be manned by 199 crew. In last year’s competition the three-masted ship averaged 11.4 knots in the races, the quickest average time since records of the races began.
A large number of tall ships will also be returning to Shetland, following the success of the event in the isles in 1999.
Making this return journey will be Norway’s Christian Radich – an attractive three-masted full-rigged ship which was the overall winner of The Tall Ships Races in 2010.
Also returning will be the 56-metre barque Europa from the Netherlands. This beautiful ship was originally built in 1911 as an Elbe light ship and was converted to a tall ship in 1994.
The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Lerwick project manager Fiona Dally said: “To have 50 ships with over 2,000 crew already signed up is a fantastic achievement. When The Tall Ships Races last visited Shetland’s shores, we had 53 ships with 2,500 crew, so we are in a great position going into the New Year.
“We are receiving more intentions from ships looking to take part so I am confident that we will reach our target of over 60 ships by the time July comes around.”
The event starts in Waterford, Ireland on 30th June, with vessels racing to Scotland, calling at Greenock and then taking the Cruise in Company leg to Shetland. Lerwick will host the ships from 21st to 24th July before the start of race two, sailing to Stavanger in Norway.