Teesside International Airport | Published on: 4th July 2023
Teesside Airport has bid “Bon voyage!” to 40 sail trainees heading for the Netherlands as part of this year’s Tall Ships Races 2023.
The trainees – aged between 15 and 24 – departed their local airport on Saturday, bound for Amsterdam Schiphol with KLM, where they will take the train to their vessels in Den Helder, North Holland. They will crew eight ships sailing back to Hartlepool which will drop anchor in the town later this week.
The tall ships will arrive on Thursday to a weekend of celebrations, in what is set to be one of the biggest free events in the UK this year. More than 35 of the crafts will land at Hartlepool Marina for four days of free festivities including live music – headlined by local indie rockers Maximo Park – plus dance, performances and pyrotechnics.
This will be the first chance many of the trainees will have had to experience sailing, giving them not just an idea of what life at sea is really like, but also help them build on essential life skills such as working as part of a team. A further 45 trainees will leave Hartlepool on 9 June to sail to Fredrikstad, Norway, on the next leg of the races.
A host of local businesses and organisations have thrown their weight behind the trainees to help to fund this fantastic opportunity, including the Sea Cadets, Thirteen Group, Redcar College and the PFC Trust. Travel agent Dawson and Sanderson were on hand to assist the sail trainees in flying from their local airport.
One person jetting off is 20-year-old Ellie Mae Travill, from Skelton-in-Cleveland. She has been sailing for ten years after joining the Sea Cadet Corps a decade ago, which sparked her love for the sea.
She said: “I have sailed all around the world on multiple different types of vessels. It’s something I have always enjoyed and will continue to love. My most memorable voyage would’ve been sailing through the Gulf of California in Mexico. We saw so much wildlife and got to visit some amazing ports.
“The biggest challenge during this sail would be maintaining a racing speed even during low winds. Hartlepool has a great maritime history. It’s important for the Tall Ships to come to Hartlepool to celebrate the town’s maritime heritage.
“I definitely want to continue sailing as a hobby. I have had a previous career in commercial shipping and I feel that getting back onto smaller vessels would be more suitable.”
The Tall Ships Races Hartlepool 2023 is being delivered by Hartlepool Borough Council with £2million of support from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s great that our airport can play one small part in getting these amateur sailors to their ships for one of the biggest events taking place in our region this year.
“Sail Trainees is a fantastic scheme to help the personal development of young people, while making memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I wish them al safe travels and look forward to welcoming them back to our area.
“The Tall Ships Races Hartlepool 2023 will see thousands upon thousands of visitors descend on Hartlepool for a fantastic weekend, getting people from near and far on our high streets and spending in our brilliant local businesses.
“This is the latest in a long list of huge events this year – coming hot on the heels of Arctic Monkeys’ gig in Middlesbrough which gave our region a £1million boost – and all of these are continuing to put Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool on the map as a brilliant destination.”
Cllr Mike Young, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Tourism and Culture, said: “The Sail Trainees initiative is a hugely important element of The Tall Ships Races Hartlepool 2023 in that it ensures a significant number of our young people benefit from this fantastic event.
“To have the opportunity to sail on a Tall Ship is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m sure will leave a lasting impression on the trainees for the rest of their lives. I’d like to take the opportunity to wish them all good luck as they embark on their amazing adventure.
“Hartlepool is an ambitious town and we have already started work on the impacts and legacy programme once the Tall Ships Race concludes. But for now, we’re excited for what will be an incredible weekend.”
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