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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK


Party ahoy for tall ships

The Tall Ships received a warm welcome in Greenock

Thousands of people have descended on a Scottish port to watch the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race.

Up to 80 sailing ships from 16 different countries are in Greenock for the race, which is expected to generate millions of pounds for the Inverclyde economy.

BBC Correspondent Abeer Parkes on the Tall Ships spectacular
Event organisers had been predicting up to half a million people would see the spectacle over four days, but by lunchtime on Friday up to 200,000 people had already been to see the boats.

And the Clydeside town was able to greet its visitors with glorious weather.

[ image: About 76 boats are taking part in the race]
About 76 boats are taking part in the race
Trains to the town were packed and park-and-ride facilities were being well used but police said no major problems had been experienced at the start of the four-day waterfront festival.

An event spokesman said: "It is quite a spectacle for the visitors and it's great for us because the weather is superb.

"There are 150,000 to 200,000 people who have arrived already which is fantastic."

The first leg of the Tall Ships Race got under way on 24 July from the east coast of France close to St Malo, and Greenock was their first British port of call.

All the ships docked by lunchtime on Friday after being hampered by unhelpful winds on their voyage from France.

BBC Scotland reporter Colin MacKinnon: "There is a real carnival atmosphere"
The event is expected to be a real money-spinner for the town and pubs and restaurants have brought in extra supplies to cope with the demand.

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.

Highlights 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.

[ image: The Tall Ships set sail from France]
The Tall Ships set sail from France
There are also live bands, street theatre and dance performances.

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

"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 is the world's largest international sailing event and Greenock will be welcoming ships from at least 16 different countries ranging from Mexico and Russia to Italy and Sweden during the event.

The biggest ship competing is the 373ft Russian ship, Kruzenshtern, which is the second-largest sailing ship in the world.

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