TALL ships could be sailing back to the North-East as another city hopes to host the spectacular event.

Following the success of Hartlepool and Newcastle/Gateshead in hosting the Tall Ships Race in recent years, a joint bid is being prepared to bring the annual sailing pageant to Sunderland.

Race organiser Sail Training International is seeking a North Sea port to feature in the 2018 race.

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Businesses on Wearside are now being primed to back the bid, proposed by local charity Music, Arts and Culture (Mac) Trust supported by Sunderland City Council.

John Mowbray, of the trust, said it’s only being considered as it is thought the city’s port and river mouth could cater for the array of vessels featuring in the race.

The Northern Echo:
One of the Tall Ships leaves Hartlepool in 2010

“We believe that it is something that is possible in Sunderland.

“We’ve talked to the council and the port and feel Sunderland is able to host this race.

“It’s something that other ports in the area have done, but Sunderland is actually probably better suited than them, especially as our city centre is so close to the river.”

Mr Mowbray said Sunderland would be an appropriate venue for such a sea-born spectacular with its long history of shipbuilding and maritime activities.

The event has the potential to bring a major economic boost to host cities, as organisers of the Hartlepool leg of the race in 2010 estimated that it attracted 970,000 visitors to the town, along with the added spending power of the hundreds of participants in the competing crews, who usually spend several days in port.

It usually sees about 100 sail vessels of varying sizes, mostly crewed by youthful sailing novices, from upwards of 20 countries, on criss-cross voyages in European waters.

City council leader Paul Watson said it is an idea “worth considering”, despite being a few years away.

“It’s in keeping with our international strategy and our strong record of hosting world-class events in Sunderland.”

The bid is expected to be submitted by mid-September.

Prior to Hartlepool hosting the near 60-year-old event, it was successfully staged on the Tyne in 1986, 1993 and 2005.

It usually is supported by a host of cultural activities in the three to four cities which feature each year.

The trust behind the potential application is based on Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, and can be contacted on 0191-305 5201.