Published on: Aug 11, 2023
After nearly two years of planning, the Tall Ships Races 2023 event has been hailed as a great success.
Lerwick hosted the Tall Ships Races for the third time in July, with ships, crews, visitors and locals coming out in force to make it a four day event to remember for a very long time.
The project management of this event was undertaken by Emma Miller from September 2021. Working closely with the team of Directors at Shetland Tall Ships Ltd and a number of subject specific committees, Emma oversaw the planning and delivery of this colourful and exciting international event.
Over 11,000 visitors attended the event sites each day. Many ships opened their decks to visitors and attendees were also entertained by a range of performers and musicians.
Highlights of the event included the Crew Parade, where thousands of people lined the streets of Lerwick to welcome the fleet and watch them march to the prize giving ceremony on the main stage at Holmsgarth.
Vessels from as far afield as Indonesia and Uruguay joined ships from the UK and Scandinavia in Lerwick Harbour, while Sail Training Shetland provided funding for 100 sail trainees to participate in the races.
Thousands of revellers enjoyed live music from over 60 acts including headliners Tide Lines and Peat & Diesel, while local bands including First Foot Soldiers also enjoyed a rapturous response from the 5,500-strong audience at Holmsgarth. The arena was packed out on all four nights.
A programme of free music was provided at Victoria Pier to complement the free family friendly activities taking place including a beachfront area, science and technology displays, classic car displays, Captain Jack and Mr Gibbs lookalikes and circus performers.
In addition to overseeing the planning of the social programme, the project management role also required the supervision of appointing contractors for sound, light and staging; shower and toilet facilities for crew and public; caterers and traders; event and emergency planning processes; corporate hospitality events and overseeing site build and breakdown. An additional element was coordinating a series of Guest Harbours in other locations for the fleet to visit on route to Lerwick. This included Aberdeen, Stromness, Cullivoe and Baltasound.
Reflecting on the event, Emma said "Planning and delivering this event has been the biggest challenge of my career. Receiving such a positive and participatory engagement from crews, visitors and the Shetland public has made it a truly special experience.
"The input from the event team, volunteers, contractors and organisations such as Sail Training Shetland and Sail Training International has been exceptional and I feel very lucky to have been part of this event family."
Emma will attend the Sail Training International Conference in November 2023 to present a summary of the event to future host ports, ships and other agencies.
(Stage Image Credit: Gordon Seigel. Rigging Image Credit: Ben Mullay)