FROM halfway up a boat's mast, maritime Greenwich is looking shipshape to welcome the Tall Ships regatta in 2014.

The deal to bring the capital’s largest Tall Ship race in 25 years to Greenwich was sealed on board The Lady of Avenel with a signing between Greenwich Council and Sail Training International on May 7.

News Shopper: I climb the rigging of The Lady of Avenel for a better view of Greenwich's riverfront


It means a fleet of up to 100 vessels will sail from Falmouth to the race’s finish in Woolwich past iconic sights including the Old Royal Naval College, the Cutty Sark and the O2 next September.

But for those who wish to test their sea legs before then, there is the chance to take to the helm of Tall Ships cruising Greenwich’s riverfront this Summer with the return of Sail Royal Greenwich.

News Shopper: Steering The Lady of Avenel through the Thames Barrier

Steering the 104ft Lady of Avenel - rigged by the Cutty Sark’s team - through the narrow Thames Barrier may have had my passengers wanting to jump ship, but I was in my element.

For as well as corporate hospitality events, Tall Ships can be hired out for hands-on sailing experience between Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal - with its maritime history dating back to 1671.

It comes after last year’s spectacular Tall Ships flotilla which was generally plain sailing - minus the launch event when the boats had to turn back because of the tide.

Leader of Greenwich Council Councillor Chris Roberts says the "fantastic" event will be good for businesses and the council have learnt from last year and a trip to Latvia - which cost taxpayers around £5,500 for the Riga-based Tall Ship conference.

Cllr Roberts told News Shopper: "We will have around 100 tall ships of varying sizes and hope to have as many as 14 to 20 really big ones.

"It is a good investment. I think it will be very good for our businesses.

"In Dublin last year, two million came in to eat, drink, and spend.

"We learnt a huge amount from Latvia. That is where we got the offer of the regatta and we learned quite a lot about the politics of the organisation."

The signing, which secured the race coming to Greenwich, happened at the same time as the Royal Greenwich Festivals 2013 launch which includes Sail Royal Greenwich.

News Shopper: Greenwich Council Leader Cllr Chris Roberts signed a deal with Sail Training International to bring the Tall Ships regatta to Greenwich

Cllr Roberts said: "We are absolutely committed to the arts - not only for the enjoyment they bring but also for the huge contribution they make to our local economy - more than 12,000 jobs depend on tourism and culture."

He added: "Royal Greenwich boasts the longest river front in London making it the best place to host the Tall Ships Regatta.

"This will be a fantastic opportunity to boost the economic potential of the borough even further while providing a stunning visual display and opportunities for local young people to experience sailing on the high seas."

He went on to say the largest cost of the regatta would be for port fees of around £65,000 and the council is seeking sponsorship to help with costs.

To find out more about Tall Ships coming to Greenwich from August 28 to September 1 and to book visit and

 Royal Greenwich Festivals 2013 includes:

Greenwich Dances: May 17 to 27 June 27 - A festival of dance and movement in places and spaces across Greenwich.

Greenwich+Docklands International Festival: June 21 to June 29. London's leading annual festival of free outdoor performing arts.

Parksfest: June 1 to July 28 - Free summer events in Greenwich parks.

Greenwich World Cultural Festival: July 2013. Greenwich Dance and Greenwich Theatre transform the open spaces, secret hideaways and historic gardens of Eltham Palace.

Greenwich Music Festival: Ongoing to March 20 2014. Performances including staged work, dance, chamber music concerts, film, lectures and educational outreach programs.

For more information click here.