Preparations have already begun for the Tall Ships' arrival in 2010
In 2010, Hartlepool will become the finish line to the Tall Ships' Race.
The area will welcome up to 125 tall ships, at the finishing line of the famous event between August 7 and 10.
The race is expected to attract more than one million visitors to Teesside.
A giant clock has been installed on Hartlepool Marina to mark the countdown to the event.
Mayor Stuart Drummond said: "I'm over the moon, it's literally going to be Hartlepool's Olympics, the most exciting thing that's happened to the town for a long time.
"We're expecting something like one million visitors over the weekend, so it's a real opportunity for us to show what kind of a town Hartlepool is."
Life on a tall ship
In 2008, the Lord Nelson docked at Hartlepool and BBC Tees' Martin Forster was given the opportunity to taste what is in store when the Tall Ships come to Hartlepool in 2010.
Early morning and The Lord Nelson is redefining the skyline at Hartlepool's Victoria Dock, sitting silent and proud in the wafer thin, silver dawn, among the vulgar cranes and containers.
Few by few, and looking slightly unsure of what to expect, the guests who will be crewing her, begin to turn up on the dockside.
BBC Tees goes on a Tall Ships Race taster day
Since her maiden voyage in 1986, the Lord Nelson has taken around 23,000 people to sea. Today she has come to take around 40 people from Hartlepool for a day at sea.
But if anyone is planning on having an easy day, they've got another thing coming. First mate Steve Higgs says, "A lot of people are not entirely sure what they are letting themselves into. They understand they are going to go sailing. It could be somebody who expects to go on a cruise, but then gets a rude awakening when they find themselves pulling on a wet rope at three o'clock in the morning."
Clinging to a mast
One of those on board is Hartlepool's 2010 Tall Ships Co-Ordinator, Michelle Daurat. Despite clinging to a mast, high above the sea, with the wind happily setting up home in her hair, she is endlessly, though not effortlessly, enthusiastic. "I'm new to this and I must say, it's just been amazing, a really great experience and I would just encourage anybody to just give it a go."
It will be nearly two years before the Tall Ships Race itself arrives in Hartlepool, the finishing line for the year's event. In the meantime, the Lord Nelson has left its visitors with plenty of memories to take home.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.