TWO more ships have pledged their support for The Tall Ships Races in Sunderland 2018.

UK registered James Cook and Belgian vessel Rupel have both confirmed they will be adding to the spectacular event taking place in and around the Port of Sunderland between Wednesday 11 and Saturday 14 July 2018.

James Cook, operated by Ocean Youth Trust North (OYTN) is based in North Shields. OYTN is a charity which specialises in the personal development of young people and adults through the unique medium of ocean sailing. The 70-foot ocean-going yacht was designed and built on the Tyne in 1997 for the Ocean Youth Club by apprentices from British Shipbuilders, later to become Swan Hunters. During her lifetime she has taken over 9,000 young people, most of them form the North East, for a sailing adventure.

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “It is great to hear that even though there is just over 11 months to go; ships from around the UK and Europe are already making plans to come to Sunderland.

“Whether the vessels and crews come from as far as Belgium or as near as Tynemouth, I’m sure that they will all receive a fantastic welcome to Sunderland and to what is sure to be a memorable event.”

Managing Director for OYTN, Steve Lennon, said: “As a local organisation we are really looking forward to help the event in Sunderland showcase both the city and our fantastic region.

“Sail training offers an exhilarating experience that can bring a positive change to lives and inspires futures. The skills and teamwork learned on-board helps young people and adults, irrespective of their background, work and develop together as they rise to the challenge of the sea.”

2017 is a milestone year for the charity as this September marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of James Cook, a common sight along the coast and affectionately known as ‘the big yellow boat’.

Steve added: “The trust is looking to re-connect with anyone who has sailed on-board in the past as a member of crew, group leader or volunteer. We would like to share your memories of your time on board – whether that’s which bunk you’ve slept in; people you met or places you went. We would like to hear your stories and see your photos, if you would like to share! To get in touch, call in to see us, visit our Facebook page (Ocean Youth Trust North) or email “

TS Rupel is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. The ship was built by unemployed youngsters on the bank of the river Rupel in the Flanders area of Belgium. The initial aim of the project was to train young people and develop their skills in shipbuilding to help their employment prospects. It now continues to help develop skills and knowledge by delivering sail training experiences in and around Europe.

For further information about The Tall Ships Races 2018 follow the team at , Twitter @TallShipsSund or on Facebook at TallShipsRacesSunderland