A TORBAY Tall Ships Association has been set up as part of a campaign to attract more tall ships events to the Bay.
The new group recently met at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club.
During the event, Mayor Gordon Oliver explained the local history of Tall Ships to the group including the fact that the Bay hosted key events between 1956 and 2006.
He also discussed how events could benefit the local economy today.
He said: “It has been my ambition to form this association for some years and it is great to have made a start.
"The Tall Ships ethos reflects the Bay’s heritage over centuries when it has been a place of shelter for large and small vessels including Royal Navy ships.
"I am pleased to say that is still fulfils this task today.”
There are real economic benefits to hosting these type of events in the Bay, said Mr Oliver.
Also by attracting Tall Ships, particularly those with naval connections, there is the opportunity to strengthen current international links and develop new partnerships.
He added: "Tall Ship events can create national and international media attention and a range of opportunities for community involvement and enjoyment. There are also potential training opportunities for local young people.
“Regatta visits are organised years in advance by organisations such as Sail Training International and the London Sailing Project, so it is important to show we are willing to host and welcome tall ships to the Bay.”
Kevin Mowat, Torbay Harbour Master, said: “The Tall Ship Stavros Niarchos is a regular visitor to Brixham, most recently visiting during Fishstock.
"The interest that Tall Ships generate in the Bay is always significant, they can attract large crowds who love to view these beautiful vessels and queues often form when they are open for onboard visits.
“In 2006, Tall Ships set sail from Torbay for a 50th anniversary celebration and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh gave the signal to start the race, just as he did back in 1956.
"The Mayor, Gordon Oliver, was instrumental in organising the celebrations and helping with that event which saw a large number of Tall Ships on the start line in Tor Bay.
“We understand that we cannot accommodate the larger vessels alongside with our existing infrastructure but we know we can host a Tall Ships event. To be able to attract more of these wonderful ships to the Bay would certainly be beneficial to residents and visitors and hopefully we can build on the 50th anniversary celebrations.”
Nigel Rowe, Chairman of Sail Training International 2002-2012 and now a Patron, said: “Torbay did a great job under Gordon Oliver’s direction hosting the start of The Tall Ships Races series from Torbay in 2006 and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first race which started in Torbay in 1956.
“Torbay has a strong historical and current connection with Sail Training and Tall Ships. In 2006, the coveted solid silver Torbay Cup was introduced and is presented every year at the end of The Tall Ships Races summer series to a young trainee for outstanding individual achievement and personal effort.”
Doug Prothero, Sail Training International’s new Chairman, said: “The creation of the Tor Bay Tall Ships Association is a very welcome development. Although it will be difficult to bring a Tall Ships event to Torbay until the port can accommodate a fleet alongside, sail training vessel operators will be delighted to have the opportunity to visit the town and find a friendly welcome.
“We hope the Association will now also be the vehicle to help more young people from Torbay benefit from the sail training experience through participation in our events.”
Host ports are integral to the success of any Tall Ships event. Once STI has selected the sea area all the relevant ports in that region are invited to bid to be a host port. There are many economic, social and community reasons why a port may bid to become a host port for the Tall Ships races.
Torbay donated ‘The Torbay Cup’ to the STI in 2006 when the last race was run from the Bay. A cup is presented to a deserving young person participating in the Tall Ships Race each year.