Main Menu

A Diamond Year in Review

Posted on: 23.12.16

We’ve had a hugely successful year in 2016 with the Tall Ships Races, North Sea Regatta and SCF Black Sea Regatta. These spectacular events gave thousands of trainees the chance to have an adventure at sea.

This year signified the landmark diamond anniversary of our historic Tall Ships Races and Regattas, which started in 1956. With more than 4.2 million visitors throughout our 2016 events, record numbers of trainees, and hugely impressive events at each host port, we thought it would be great idea to look back over an exceptional year…

2016 stats

• We visited 10 fantastic host ports.
• Eight countries were visited by the Tall Ships Races and Regattas (Belgium, Portugal, Spain, UK, Sweden, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria).
• 95 vessels took part.
• 379 host port trainees in Lisbon, plus 43 in the Cruise-in-Company (a record breaker!).
• 21 flag states were represented.
• 3,401 nautical miles were sailed.
• 26 different nationality of trainees took part.. and we had over 4 million visitors.
• 800 accredited media covered our events.
• 300,000 Facebook fans.
• 2,500 individual media items were published covering our events.
• 7,865 trainees and crew members took part across the year.
Christian Radich (Norway), Georg Stage (Denmark) and Maybe (UK) took part in the first Tall Ships Races 1956 and returned in 2016.
• 96 Oman Bursaries awarded to people from 24 different countries. 56 males and 40 female recipients, mostly between 16 and 20 years old.

The Tall Ships Races 2016

The adventure began in Antwerp, Belgium, in early July, with the diverse city hosting its sixth Tall Ships event since 1993. The weekend’s uncharacteristically warm weather provided the perfect backdrop for the magnificent international fleet, and there were a wide range of activities and crew sports on offer. Visitors also had the chance to witness crew members from each of the vessels parade through the city’s cobbled streets in style.

The second stop of the Tall Ships Races 2016 saw the fleet arrive in spirited Lisbon. Celebrations began on 22 July in this warm, friendly and multicultural city, which opened its arms to welcome the Tall Ships for the seventh time. As the finishing port of the very first Tall Ships Races event in 1956, Lisbon put on a spectacular event that continued its great heritage of hosting Tall Ships celebrations.

The southern Spanish city of Cádiz – known as the City of Solidarity – welcomed the Tall Ships fleet at the end of July. Living up to its mayor’s promise, Cádiz fully embraced the Tall Ships and their visitors, with a festival atmosphere that permeated the whole of the famous “old town”. Special highlights, alongside an excellent array of crew sports and activities, were a mass participation “Zumbathon” and epic group-led Latin dance lessons.

In mid-August, the fleet headed towards a warm southern Spanish welcome in bustling A Coruña. Crew members enjoyed numerous activities and displays, while celebrating arriving in the final port of the Tall Ships Races 2016. During their final leg, the Tall Ships enjoyed fantastic opportunities to stop in a number of ports during a Cruise-in-Company, which took in the Portuguese coast. In particular, the Ilhavo Sea Festival on the Portuguese coast proved hugely popular.

Crowds gather for day one of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016.

Crowds gather for day one of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016.

The North Sea Regatta 2016

Continuing our diamond anniversary celebrations, we also presented the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta between Blyth, UK, and Gothenburg, Sweden. Years of preparation burst into action in late August as festivities for the latest instalment of the legendary North Sea race.

Local Northumberland food, competitive inter-ship sports competitions and activities for all the family brought huge numbers of visitors and crews together for the Bank Holiday weekend in Blyth, UK. A stunning Regatta fleet, live music, a funfair, circus acts, sand artists, street entertainment, and a stunning Parade of Sail helped bring more than 500,000 eager spectators to the port.

Following an exhilarating 500-nautical-mile race in steady winds, that focused trainees’ concentration on watch keeping and sail trimming to optimise vessel speeds, the fleet arrived in beautiful Gothenburg, Sweden. Sustainability was the name of the game for the host port, and thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Swedish organisers and fleet, the weekend’s impressive environmental standards were officially recognised by the Swedish Environmental Base.

Tall Ships in Novorossiysk port

Tall Ships in Novorossiysk port.

The Black Sea Regatta 2016

Following a hugely successful inaugural event in 2014, the SCF Black Sea Tall Ships Regatta returned in September-October 2016 for an 800-nautical-mile race. For the first time, the fleet raced between two Russian ports, Novorossiysk and Sochi.

Beginning in rustic Constanta, Romania’s largest Black Sea port, the international fleet of ships received a spectacular welcome from visitors against a backdrop of historical monuments and fascinating ruins. Beautiful clear skies were the perfect setting for four action-packed days of activities for crews that finished with a spectacular crew parade. For visitors, the much-loved Russian ships received an especially warm welcome.

Novorossiysk and Sochi hosted the first ever race between two Russian ports. Russian tall ships have been participating in Tall Ships Races and Regattas since 1978 and both ports provided an electric environment, full of excitement for crews and visitors alike. For crews, Sochi proved especially memorable, with the port organising special trips to landmarks throughout and outside the world famous city, including the iconic 2014 Olympic Park.

For the final port stop in Varna, Bulgaria, the quaysides were bustling with people, young and old, soaking up the atmosphere and photographing the impressive fleet. The Crew Parade, led by a military band, embraced the whole city, making its way through the streets, and gave many afternoon shoppers an unexpected treat.

Final Thoughts

At the Captains’ Dinner in A Coruña, during the Tall Ships Races 2016, Sophie Bavière, First Mate on board Gulden Leeuw (The Netherlands), shared a story that highlighted the ongoing positive impact that sail trainers can have on their trainees.

“It is up to each of us to show them (trainees) where there is a great future. It is up to each of us to teach them not only how to vacuum during happy hour or to make coffee for the next watch, but to become leaders, the next leaders of these wonderful vessels that we are sailing, the leaders of all these ports hosting us, and the leaders of the beautiful cities we are visiting each year.”

– Sophie Bavière

This message from Sophie perfectly reflects our aims and values, and those of sail training as a whole. We want as many people as possible to take part in sail training, so that they can experience the endless opportunities and benefits that an adventure under sail offers. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from, what language you speak, or what religion you follow, the Tall Ships Races and Regattas will welcome you with open arms.


The Tall Ships Race 2016 may be over, but the adventure doesn’t have to stop. We’re already looking ahead to our upcoming events… and we’re really excited! In 2017, we’ll be travelling 7,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic, as part of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. We’ll also be visiting five ports in the ever-popular Baltic Sea, for the Tall Ships Races 2017. Check out our Events pages for all our upcoming Tall Ships Races and Regattas.

Fair winds and following seas!