Festivities Draw To A Close After A Memorable Weekend At The Tall Ships Races 2011 - Lerwick

Under full sail and in all their majesty, the 53 Tall Ships with over 2,000 international crew who graced Shetland’s shores left Lerwick after a weekend full of festivities and tinged with sadness.

Over the course of the weekend, thousands of visitors took the opportunity to board and explore the Tall Ships berthed along the Lerwick waterfront. Many visitors enjoyed browsing a variety of stalls including the Shetland Showcase. The extensive family entertainment programme was very popular, as was the Shetland Classic Motor Show.

With over 100 music performances over the weekend, including some fantastic local musical talent, thousands  enjoyed the headline concerts on Friday and Saturday night featuring Levellers and Bjorn Again, followed by a spectacular firework display which graced the skies of Lerwick with the Ships berthed at Holmsgarth providing the perfect backdrop.

Sunday morning’s united church service was particularly poignant following the tragic events in Norway, where ten of the visiting Tall Ships and many of the crew had travelled from.

After postponing Race 2 of The Tall Ships Races 2011 for 24 hours due to weather conditions, Sunday’s programme of entertainment continued with a fantastic evening concert at Holmsgarth featuring local acts including Scaldin Bragg, the return after a 15 year hiatus of The Red Vans, as well as the mighty Pete Stack and The Rayburns to a roaring local crowd.

Local musicians pulled out all the stops to extend the evenings’ performances at Victoria Pier and  the Club Marquee proved exceptionally popular every evening.

On Monday, visitors and the local community found the best vantage points on the Knab and Bressay to watch the fantastic Parade of Sail which was led by Shetland’s very own Tall Ship, Swan, which featured eight Sail Trainees who joined the ship on Saturday to set sail for Stavanger, the next stage of The Tall Ships Races.

At 5pm, the first of the Class A vessels congregated at the starting point (approximately five miles out to sea) flanked by HMS Mersey and Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Aalesund, with the Northern Lighthouse board vessel Pharos acting as the No Go Zone vessel.  The first through the gate seemed to be Russian vessel, Mir, closely followed by Europa, Sorlandet and the rest of the Class A vessels.  Classes B, C and D then followed with Swan making good against the rest of her class.

Sandy Cluness, chairman of The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Lerwick said:  “We’re delighted with the success of this weekend’s events. 

“The visit of the Tall Ships has showcased everything the Islands have to offer, and has proven again how Shetland can become host to a world class event with the full backing of the entire Shetland community.”

Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority said: “Having the Tall Ships fleet at Lerwick has been a great honour.   The willing co-operation shown by the normal harbour traffic and the assistance given by so many to host the fleet has been amazing.  We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from many happy people.”

Fiona Dally, project manager of The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Lerwick, said:  “It’s a real mixture of elation and sadness to see the Tall Ships depart. 

Starting with the excellent hospitality shown around the Isles, during The Tall Ships Races 2011-Cruise in Company, visitors and the community came out in force to visit the Tall Ships on arrival in Lerwick. Despite the wind and weather, visitors enjoyed the many activities which ensured the town bustled over the course of the five day visit. 

“We must say a huge thanks to all of the volunteers who have made this event particularly special and a real family affair.  The level of support they’ve given without question has been wonderful, especially that of all the liaison officers who ensured the Norwegian Captains and crew had access to the necessary communication to reach their families back home when necessary.

A special thanks must go to everyone who went the extra mile to ensure we could accommodate, entertain and look after our visitors for an additional 24 hours.

“We hope our event will be remembered as a truly international celebration and look forward to welcoming The Tall Ships back to our shores again soon.”

The Tall Ships Races is presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International.