A MAJOR new annual Irish Sea sailing ship race was launched at Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
The Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST) and Douglas Bay Yacht Club (DBYC) will inaugurate The Three Legs of Man Sail Parade in late August.
It will be staged from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man, continue to Belfast, Northern Ireland, and return to Liverpool.
The crews will be drawn from young people on Merseyside and the Isle of Man.
No previous sailing ship experience is necessary and MAST and DBYC can offer bursaries to help with costs.
Two of Britain’s most famous tall ships are provisionally booked to take part.
They are the Pelican and the Kathleen & May, which was built on Deeside in 1900 and is the last UK wooden topsail schooner.
Other vessels will accompany the tall ships in the race, for which MAST is busy fund-raising.
MAST was also crucially involved in bringing the tall ships Pelican and Stavros S Niarchos to Liverpool for the Springtime on the Waterfront event.
MAST initiated the public day-sailing trips on the two tall ships. It also negotiated the use of Pelican by Merseyside YMCA and other Wirral charities today.
Jim Graves, MAST chairman, said: “This is a key part of MAST’s plan to make Liverpool the northern UK centre for tall ships sail adventure training and trips.
“These voyages will be open to anybody of any age and background, ranging from teenagers to pensioners.
“We’ve also been very impressed by the interest shown by the private sector in donations and support for our plans in these difficult economic times.
“There are tall ships out there which are not reaching the public they need to sustain them.
“But MAST has already shown it can successfully act as facilitator to do this.”
Nigel Hughes, Birkenhead YMCA chief executive, has brought together Wirral charities to hire Pelican via MAST for today’s day sail.
He said: “This will be an unforgettable experience for anybody embarking on a tall ship in a river steeped in history.
“Our passengers would never have had the opportunity to do this without the efforts of MAST.”
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