Falmouth is on course for a much welcomed major economic boost next year as the port is to start the Magellan-Elcano 500 Series 2021 Tall Ships Race when up to 40 of these magnificent sailing vessels are expected to arrive in the port to to participate.

The French port of Dunkirk was due to be the host starting port but withdrew a week ago due to financial and economic reasons arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The race will start in Falmouth on August 19 with vessels arriving during the previous week. Falmouth has a very good rapport with Sail Training International (STI) who co-ordinate these remarkable events.

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.

Touching upon the economic impact of such events, Falmouth BID manager Richard Wilcox, one of the organisers for Tall Ships Falmouth 2021, said: “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 ini-tiatives and activities for 2021 that can support the local economy and provide a welcome boost for business.”

Unlike other races from the port the tall ships will be on fore and aft moorings in the harbour off Trefusis, on swinging moorings, berhed at Port Pendennis marina, or in the case of the Class A vessels anchored on the Falmouth Bank as in the 1966 event.

Since the 1998 race the Empire and Kings wharves in the docks have been demolished and with A&P Falmouth’s commitment to the MOD and cruise ships berths cannot be promised for these events now.

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.

Falmouth Packet:

The 2021 Tall Ships Race route map

Falmouth town mayor 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 spe-cial 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.”

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.”

The 2014 Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta was held between Thursday, August 28 and Sunday, August 31. 

It was estimated that 197,000 people visited the regatta over a four day period. An executive summary of the event estimated the spend at £20.9 million.

If circumstances permit this is the huge financial injection of cash that the town needs after the lockdowns experienced this year and maybe early next year.

With August being peak holiday season this event will bring tens of thousands of people flocking to the area.

The race will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the globe by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and Basque explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano.

On August 10, 1519, five ships sailed from Seville on voyage that took three years to complete with Elcano finally sailing his vessel back into Seville on September 6 1522.

Magellan was killed in the Philippines by fierce natives in a skirmish and later 30 of his crew were ambushed and murdered at a feast. Elcano took command of the ship Victoria eventually bringing it back to Spain.