Alongside such global events as the Olympic Games or Universal Exhibitions, which are traditionally seen as a catalyst for regeneration and redevelopment (Barcelona, Lisbon, etc.), the Tall Ships Races are among the world’s largest public attendance sports events. They are held every summer in European waters by Sail Training International, bringing together between 60 and 100 vessels from around twenty nations. These events attract both local residents and hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic spectators (sometimes over a million) to the docks of port cities.

Over recent decades, municipal and port authorities have been almost unanimous in their verdicts on these events: a Tall Ships Races stage generates growth and new regeneration opportunities for waterfront areas.

© Knut Western, Sail Training International

The influx of visitors, tourists, spectators and professionals has a significant positive impact on the local economy, while creating revenue for local businesses. An impact study carried out for Newcastle Gateshead, which hosted a stage in 2005, found that the event had generated £50 million for the region.

A Tall Ships Race often acts as a catalyst for regeneration of the dock areas that host it: 500 m of quays in Riga in 2003, the Wellington Dock in Liverpool in 2008, etc. In Greenock (which staged legs in 1999 and 2011), the project to transform the Albert Dock’s vast « Sugar Sheds » into a cultural centre was given a major boost by the 2011 event. For Szczecin, hosting the Tall Ships Races in 2007 formed a distinct component of a long-term strategy to regenerate the entire city, including the abandoned industrial areas, and enhance its tourist image. There are many more such examples.