Countdown begins with 500 days to go to The Tall Ships Races in Waterford.
The countdown to Waterford’s hosting of The Tall Ships Races 2011 officially began on February 15th, with the website for the event launched to coincide with the ‘500 days to go’ milestone.
Over 500,000 Irish and overseas visitors are expected to generate a €35m economic boost for Waterford between June 30 and July 3, 2011 as some 70 Tall Ships and their crews gather for the start of the annual race series presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International.
The international gathering was successfully hosted by Waterford in 2005. Christian Radich is the first tall ship to have advised of its commitment to return next year. The Norwegian vessel featured in the 1970s television series ‘The Onedin Line’ as well as being the subject of the 1958 film ‘Windjammer’.
Capt Liam Keating who is Master of the Stavros S Niarchos tall ship was back in his native Waterford to mark the countdown along with Cllr John Halligan, Mayor of Waterford; Michael Walsh, Waterford City Manager; Michael Flynn, chairman, Port of Waterford; Des Whelan, chairman, The Tall Ships Races 2011 (Waterford) and Olivia O’Reilly, project manager, The Tall Ships Races 2011 (Waterford).
Looking ahead to next summer, Cllr Halligan said hosting The Tall Ships Races will form a key part of Waterford’s regeneration. “Taken along with the major renewal project that Waterford City Council is driving forward with Waterford Crystal at The Mall and a number of other initiatives around how Waterford’s destination assets are showcased, our hosting of The Tall Ships Races 2011 has huge potential to generate a direct economic spin-off but also to again remind us of what we are capable of and to deliver a timely morale and profile boost for the gateway to the southeast.”
For his part, Michael Flynn said the Port is delighted to partner with Waterford City Council in delivering The Tall Ships Races 2011. “Building on what was achieved in 2005, there’s massive potential to create a terrific four days here next year. Given our riverside location, Waterford has a huge natural advantage as a host port where the Tall Ships fleet can berth right at the heart of Ireland’s oldest city. In addition to direct financial support of €300,000, the Port of Waterford will be investing considerable personnel resources in managing the marine aspects of this event with our harbourmaster Capt Darren Doyle and his team central to the safe hosting of the dozens of Tall Ships due here.”
Des Whelan, chairman, The Tall Ships Races 2011 (Waterford), added: “Our ambition is to attract over 500,000 visitors to Waterford and the southeast across the four days. The planned festival programme and promotional campaign as well as the Thursday-Sunday summer weekend run and increased awareness of the event after the positive 2005 experience are key advantages in this regard. The much-improved road and rail access also make Waterford far more accessible to a national and overseas audience.
“To coincide with the tall ships being in port, there will be a comprehensive, family-friendly festival programme featuring the very best of Irish music, food and street theatre. More details will be announced in the course of 2010 as various elements of the festival programme are confirmed.”
Designed by multiple award-winning digital agency ICAN, www.waterfordtallshipsrace.ie is set to be a key online information source. The website has a ‘sign up’ feature allowing visitors to receive regular updates on the Tall Ships fleet bound for Waterford, confirmed events in the festival programme and special offers. There is also a ‘share’ function that encourages people to spread the word.
Social media will be a major element of the overall marketing campaign for Waterford’s hosting of The Tall Ships Races 2011 with the event to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites while there will be a concerted campaign to drive traffic to the website.
Launching the site which will be updated frequently, Stephen Kent who chairs the marketing committee for The Tall Ships Races 2011 (Waterford), said: “The internet will be a hugely important communications tool for what will be the biggest event in Ireland next year.
“One of the great strengths of the web is the flexibility to rapidly update information aimed at key audiences, whether they are visitors, volunteers or – for instance – young people interested in joining the 100-plus Irish trainees who will sail from Waterford to Greenock. It will also be a powerful tool for Waterford people to share news of the event with family and friends. Similarly, it will reach sail training enthusiasts across Europe and beyond who visit host ports for the race series each year.”
As a further part of the marketing campaign for Waterford’s hosting of The Tall Ships Races 2011, a new promotional mesh banner – among the largest ever erected in Ireland – covering 120 x 80 feet has been installed on a former grain silo on Waterford’s North Quays to generate additional interest in the event among locals and visitors to the city.
When they leave Waterford after the Parade of Sail on July 3, 2011, the tall ships will race around Ireland’s south, west and north coasts to Greenock, Scotland. Later, there will be a cruise-in-company from Greenock to Lerwick in the Shetland Isles. The second race in the series will then go from Lerwick to Stavanger, Norway from where the third and final race will bring the fleet to Halmstad, Sweden.