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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK


Port shipshape for tall ships arrival

Weather conditions have hampered the timetable

Around half a million people are expected in the Port of Greenock this weekend to enjoy the visit of The Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race.

All the ships are due in dock by lunchtime on Friday but unhelpful winds on their voyage from France have staggered their arrival.

BBC Scotland Correspondent Ken Macdonald at the Tall Ships launch
The people of Greenock have been putting the finishing touches to preparations for an event which is expected to bring in millions of pounds for the Inverclyde economy.

Pubs and restaurants have brought in extra supplies to cope with demand.

[ image: Huge crowds are expected to watch the arrivals]
Huge crowds are expected to watch the arrivals
Much of the community has been involved in the preparations, and local school children have spent weeks making costumes to take part in a special parade.

Strathclyde Police said Greenock would be sealed off to motorists from Friday until Monday to ease congestion. Spectators are being advised to use local transport.

Despite the wrong kind of weather conditions, which blew some of the ships off course, race organisers remained confident all would reach the Clyde by their deadline of noon on Friday.

The first leg of the Tall Ships Race got under way on 24 July from the east coast of France close to St Malo.

International fleet

By Thursday, the ships had crossed the western approaches of the English Channel and were heading north towards Glasgow.

The Tall Ships Race is the world's largest international sailing event, and Greenock will be welcoming 76 ships from at least 16 different countries ranging from Mexico and Russia to Italy and Sweden.

[ image: Ships are arriving from all over the world]
Ships are arriving from all over the world
The biggest ship competing is the 373ft Russian ship, Kruzenshtern, which is the second-largest sailing ship in the world.

The four-day festival will feature live bands, dance and theatre performers.

Highlights will include fireworks launched from a barge on the Clyde and a parade by ship crew-members, as well as displays from the Red Arrows and air-sea rescue teams.

Event organiser Helen Drummond said: "We know of nearly 80 ships which are definitely coming to Greenock.

'Fantastic event'

"Amongst them are some absolute classics both in size, beauty and tradition. This really is shaping up to be a fantastic event."

The Tall Ships race, sponsored by Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, was first held in 1956 and takes a different route each year.

This year's race runs from St Malo in France to Greenock, and then from Lerwick in the Shetland Isles to the finish at Aalborg in Denmark on 18 August.

The race is organised by the International Sail Training Association, and at least half of each ship's crew has to consist of 16-24 year-olds.

Sailing experience is not required and for many of the young people it will be their first taste of life at sea.

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