The Tall Ships Races, organized by Sail Training International, are the world’s largest public attendance sports event, showcasing the glamour, the magic and the spectacle of historic sailing ships and at the same time making a real difference to the lives of young people from all over the world.
The Tall Ships Races have an increasing reputation of rendering positive impact on host city images, both locally in terms of self esteem and discovering new potential in old, often derelict waterfront areas, and externally in terms of awareness of qualities such as large scale event competence, and considerable benefits to a number of areas: Tourism, economic impact, publicity and to the community in general.
For nearly 60 years, port and city authorities together have seen great value in associating their names and activities with the The Tall Ships Races. From 2004 to 2009 the Port, City and Province of Antwerp were presenting sponsor, succeeded by Szczecin the next four years until the end of this year.
The Tall Ships Races take a lot of planning in a host port, often three to four years. Close cooperation between the city and the port is essential to success. The parameters are use of available areas, organization, economy, logistics, safety and security. Handling of sixty to over a hundred vessels and their thousands of crew members, especially young crews is one challenge, the public often exceeding a million visitors is another. Recent host ports have handled these challenges well, and represent good practice to be learnt from.
Knut Western, former head of information in the city administration of Fredrikstad, Norway, has been involved with the Tall Ships Races since 1997. As a volunteer in the sail training movement, he became chairman of Norwegian Sail Training Association in 2005, in 2007 director and in 2010 leader of the board of Tall Ships Races Europe Ltd, a subsidiary company of Sail Training International. STI organizes races and other events for sail training Tall Ships all over the world, the most important and famous being the annual European series The Tall Ships Races. Knut Western is also one of the event chairmen to these Races.