Liverpool will welcome the world’s largest gathering of captains of Tall Ships next year.
The city is to host the prestigious Sail Training International Annual Conference from 16th – 18th November 2007.
Despite staging The Tall Ships’ Races in 1984 and 1992, it is the first time the city will have hosted this conference.
Some 400 delegates from up to 30 countries will gather at St George’s Hall for the conference.
A programme of seminars and workshops will cover a wide range of topics of interest to the captains, sail training operators and representatives of ports that host The Tall Ships’ Races, organised by Sail Training International.
Also on the agenda will be a review of plans for the city’s staging of the start of The Tall Ships’ Races in July 2008.
Extra time has also been set aside for delegates to see the sights of Liverpool, prior to the start of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008 from 18th– 21st July.
Liverpool is hoping to attract 80 to 100 vessels carrying more than 6,000 sail trainees from around the world, mostly young people aged 15-25.
It is estimated that one million visitors will flock to see the maritime extravaganza, for what will be a major highlight of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.
Jason Harborow, Chief Executive of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ''This conference is major coup for Liverpool and will help promote our programme for 2008 to a wide international audience. It is also a huge boost to our planning for The Tall Ships’ Races 2008. It will prepare the ground for venues and attractions in the region to be fully involved in making the event a stunning success.’’
As part of Liverpool's plans for the 2008 races, the Liverpool Culture Company has devised a sail training scheme for 25 young people each year from 2005 to 2008.
A programme of free watersports and coaching has also been created to get more youngsters involved in maritime activities, a key pledge of the city's 2005 themed year - Sea Liverpool.
Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Warren Bradley, said: ‘’Liverpool's maritime links are legendary and we want to ensure The Tall Ships’ Races help to inspire a new generation of sea lovers. With the developments along the river and the major events planned, the Mersey will be reclaiming its role at the heart of Liverpool's success in 2008.''
Nigel Rowe, President and Chairman of Sail Training International, said: “The opportunity to be in Liverpool during its year as European Capital of Culture will be an added attraction for all our conference delegates. Show-casing what Liverpool has to offer the Tall Ships fleet and young trainees for the start of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008 will also help boost interest in the event for vessel operators.”