Spectacular fleet sets off on five-week race

The latest Tall Ship extravaganza to come to British shores saw Liverpool and the Mersey play host to the Tall Ship’s Races 2008 from 18 to 21 July. The event culminated in a parade of sail down the Mersey. The fleet of approximately 60 vessels gathered in formation and then proceeded downriver and out to sea, lead by the frigate HMS Argyll and accompanied by a small flotilla of other craft.

It was a spectacular sight with thousands of people lining both banks of the river to watch the vessels and take advantage of every vantage point available. The parade began at 1400 and almost three hours later the final vessels were out of sight and heading north.

The fleet made for an area off the north coast of Northern Ireland for the race start on 23 July. The vessels, ranging in size from the 78.7m barque Statsraad Lehmkuhl to the Class D vessels of about 15m in length, will then undertake the challenging voyage around the north of Scotland and head across the North Sea to Måløy, Norway (1-4 August).

After four days in Måløy, the fleet will undertake a cruise-in-company to Bergen, Norway (9-12 August), before the final race leg, which will take the fleet south along the west coast of Norway and down the North Sea to Den Helder, Netherlands, for the final celebrations (20-23 August).

As well as the tall ships, a number of other vessels were in the Mersey, including RFA Lyme Bay, the Irish patrol vessel LÉ Orla, the tug Svitzer Stanlow and the historic tug Brocklebank. Hoylake and New Brighton RNLI lifeboats were also on hand, together with numerous police, fire and caoastguard boats.