1. ITV Report

Royal Helena signs up for Tall Ships Race 2018 in Sunderland

Royal Helena Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees

By Kris Jepson

The captain of Bulgarian ship, the Royal Helena, has registered for the Tall Ships Race 2018, which will begin its first leg at the Port of Sunderland on Saturday 14 July.

Launched in 2009, the sail training vessel Royal Helena, is a three mast barquentine which can take up to 100 trainees.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

She will be one of 80 tall ships to take part in the race next summer, which sets sail to Esbjerg in Denmark, before the second leg to Stavanger in Norway and then onto the finish line at Harlingen in the Netherlands.

We need to learn everything that is on the ship. We need to learn all the sails, the way that they are working, all the ropes. After that we need to manoeuvre them and that will be quite handy in Tall Ship Race. It's a good thing that the captain has experience on this type of race and we will learn from him.

– Florian Banu, Chief Officer, Royal Helena

One hundred trainees from the North East will have the opportunity to take part in the race and organisers are hoping that it will bring in around 1.5 million visitors to the region.

I am excited because it's going to put Sunderland on the map. I'm looking forward to seeing dozens and dozens of ships like this on the river here. Lots of new visitors to the city here who will hopefully go away with a great impression of who we are and what we are. We are here!

– Alan Emerson, Mayor of Sunderland
Royal Helena signs for Tall Ships Race 2018 Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Today race organisers inspected the port to assess how prepared it is for hosting a successful tall ship spectacular next summer.

Every port we go to with the Tall Ships Races is unique in some way and I think with Sunderland it is the maritime heritage it has as a centre of ship building and seafaring for many hundreds of years, for the captains of vessels coming here they'll be aware of that and I think they will be delighted to be back here in the North East. The North East is a great supporter of Tall Ships events. We were here with the Blyth event last year, we've been in Newcastle several times in recent years, so I think for the North East it's another opportunity to see these fantastic ships.

– Paul Thompson, Sail Training International