By Falmouth Business Improvement District - 19th November 2020

The historic UK coastal town of Falmouth, Cornwall, has announced it will host the start of the prestigious Tall Ships Race, Magellan Elcano 500 Seriesin August 2021.  

At its annual online conference, Sail Training International, the global organisers of Tall Ships events and races, endorsed Falmouth as the ‘Race Start Partner’ of this iconic race, one which will also commemorate 500 years since the first circumnavigation voyage around the world.  

The maritime event will mark the sixth time Falmouth has hosted the tall ships, with the inaugural one for the town being held in 1966. Given current surrounding circumstances related to COVID and potentially necessary social distancing and safety measures, the 2021 Falmouth event will be operationally innovative, whilst adhering to all necessary Government guidelines. 

Tall Ships Falmouth 2021 will be underwritten by Falmouth Town Council, with financial support from its key partners Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID) and Falmouth Tall Ships Association. The exciting event will be organised by the Falmouth Town Team - the partnership between Falmouth Town Council’s Town Management function and Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID), Falmouth Tall Ships Association and Sam Groom Director of Perfect Events Group (PEG). The Falmouth Harbour Commissioners as in previous events, will provide exceptional ‘on the water’ logistical management. Ship liaison volunteers will also play a key role in ensuring the crews’ experience of Falmouth is a positive one. 

The new event format will welcome around 40 vessels into the sheltered, deep waters of the vibrant port town. Tall ships from various nations will arrive prior to the 19th August race start date (subject to weather, tides and other factors), with the magnificent Class A square-rigged vessels anchoring in the ‘Carrick Roads’, the estuary of the River Fal. A further number of Class A and Class B ships are likely to anchor in Falmouth’s inner harbour, while Class C and D will be berthed at Port Pendennis Marina.  

The 2021 event will see the introduction of water-based inner harbour tours to view the tall ships out in their ‘natural’ surroundings, as there will be no public access onto the ships.  This up-close opportunity, on the water, rather than on land, will offer a unique and unforgettable experience. The traditional Tall Ships Captain’s Dinner will take place at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, while visitors to Falmouth will enjoy a varied shoreside programme, organised by the Town Team and South West Bars and Events. 

Then on Thursday August 19th and prior to the start of the tall ships race from Falmouth to A Coruna in Spain (a Royal Naval Vessel will also be present on the start line), a spectacular Parade of Sail will take place around the stunning natural amphitheatre of Falmouth Bay, creating a wonderful spectacle for those watching on water or from the many vantage points along Falmouth’s scenic coastline.  

Commenting on Falmouth as the start port for the race, Paul Bishop, Race Director for Sail Training International said: 

“We are delighted to announce that the ‘Tall Ships friendly’ port of Falmouth has agreed to become our Race Start Partner and will provide the necessary logistics and arrangements to prepare the ships and their crews for the race leg to A Coruna next summer. Falmouth is an ideal start point to cross the Bay of Biscay and the team there has built up a great reputation for hosting the Races and Regattas over the past decades. I am sure that the crews will be given a very warm welcome.” 

Falmouth Town Mayor, Cllr Steve Eva reacting to the announcement said: 

“This really is fantastic news for the town and Falmouth Town Council is only too pleased to support. Credit must go to the efforts and behind the scenes negotiations by our team in Falmouth for securing this event for the benefit of our community, businesses and visitors alike. We have a strong pedigree in delivering memorable tall ships races and regattas over the years; they really hold a special place in the hearts and minds of so many. We greatly look forward to viewing the ships under full sail in Falmouth Bay once again!”  

John Hick, Chairman of the Falmouth Tall Ships Association, echoed the Mayor’s sentiments adding: 

“Cornwall’s maritime heritage is world renowned and we look forward to delivering another prestigious event here in Falmouth. We also enthusiastically welcome the owners and captains of the Sail Training International fleet and invite them once again to grace our historic port with their wonderful sailing ships. Our highly experienced team, collaborative working groups and ever-willing volunteers will provide a first-class service and warm-hearted Cornish hospitality.” 

Touching upon the economic impact of such events, Falmouth BID Manager Richard Wilcox, one of the organisers for Tall Ships Falmouth 2021 commented:  

“This is another brilliant example of the partnerships that work so well in Falmouth, coming to the fore to secure this opportunity. These events are not only wonderful occasions, thanks to the hard work of many individuals, organisations and volunteers but they provide a significant economic boost as well. The 2014 Tall Ships Regatta that the team put on for example, injected over £10 million into the Falmouth area and given the current climate, we are planning for a programme of proactive initiatives and activities for 2021 that can support the local economy and provide a welcome boost for business.” 

Falmouth Tall Ships 2021 key facts: 

  • The Tall Ships Races are organised by Sail Training International 
  • Falmouth is the Start Port for the Tall Ships Races Magellan-Elcano 500 Series 2021. The race starts on Thursday August 19th 2021 
  • The race will be preceded by a visually stunning Parade of Sail and celebratory shoreside events 
  • The Falmouth Tall Ships 2021 event will be underwritten by Falmouth Town Council with financial support from Falmouth BID and Falmouth Tall Ships Association 
  • The Falmouth Tall Ships 2021 event will be organised by the Falmouth Town Team (Falmouth Town Management and Falmouth BID partnership), PEG, Falmouth Tall Ships Association and Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, with volunteer support from a dedicated ships liaison team 
  • The Tall Ships race follows a course from Falmouth to A Coruna in Spain, then onward to Portugal’s capital, Lisbon before finishing in Cadiz, Spain. 

Further details on when the tall ships will start to arrive in Falmouth, activities and shoreside events will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Keep updated on all Falmouth Tall Ships 2021 news via: 

  • Falmouth.co.uk/tallships – race and ships info, timings and shoreside event details 
  • Join us on Facebook @Tall Ships Falmouth 2021 
  • Follow us on Twitter @tallships_race #tallships  
  • Follow LoveFalmouth on Instagram 

This is another brilliant example of the partnerships that work so well in Falmouth, coming to the fore to secure this opportunity. These events are not only wonderful occasions, thanks to the hard work of many individuals, organisations and volunteers but they provide a significant economic boost as well.

- Richard Wilcox, Falmouth BID Manager
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