Yell organises three day extravaganza for Cruise in Company

It’s not every year that you have the chance to host Tall Ships, so when Cullivoe in Yell was successfully selected to be one of the participating ports for the Cruise in Company leg of The Tall Ships Races 2011 this July, the community decided to embrace the challenge with gusto.

Sail Yell are the organisers and their chairman, Barry Nisbet, himself a master on a Tall Ship, and his vice chair, Emily Tulloch, have successfully galvanised support throughout the island and put together a truly impressive programme of events. A three-day extravaganza is planned from 17 – 19 July, and it promises crew, locals and visitors a fantastic experience. The Tall Ships Races 2011  are presented by Szczecin, and organised by Sail Training International.

Barry explained: “We are hoping that this will be one of the biggest events that Yell has ever staged and we have made provision for up to 2,000 visitors – no mean feat from a population of around 1,000.

“Above all, we want to make the visiting ships’ stopover a memorable and attractive one. But we also want to encourage our own young people to become involved in the world of sail training. The community reaction has been amazing and really supportive.

“Emily Tulloch has worked tirelessly to co-ordinate a really exciting and diverse programme of events which hopefully will offer something for everyone. She has worked closely with many members of the Yell community and the Centre for Creative Industries at Sellafirth who are all giving up their time and offering their expertise to make the event a success.”

Over the course of the three days every hour from 8.00am until 1.00am is filled.

Each day will kick off with a breakfast at the various campsites and then an energising ‘Wake up with dance mats’ session at the Cullivoe Hall. Visitors and locals can then go at their own pace and pick and choose from a number of locally-focused activities.

One highlight is the art exhibition at St Olaf’s Church, Cullivoe, featuring the work of local Yell artists, Ron Sandford, Meilo So, Shona Skinner, Mike McDonnell and Jeanette Nowak, where visitors will get the chance to admire and buy the artists’ paintings and textiles.

There will also be demonstrations of local skills such as dry stone dyking, peat casting, needle felting, spinning and knitting.

The majority of events will take place outside and, for those who want to be more actively involved, there are plenty of sporting events planned. The Great Yell run on 18 July is one date to remember. Anyone can take part and participants can choose from 10km, four mile or two mile options with all money raised going to the British Heart Foundation. Sign up and have a go, whilst also taking in the stunning scenery and views across Bluemull Sound to the island of Unst.

The ‘Yell Games’ will be a friendly knock-out style tournament with different teams from around the island competing.

Various sports and swimming tournaments are planned and a football match between Yell and ‘Visitors’ on the final day promises some friendly rivalry for both players and spectators.

A field studies walk of north Yell with an expert guide will give participants a real insight into the landscape and cultural heritage of the area. Alternatively, several bus tours of the island have been arranged.

Poignantly, it will be the 130th anniversary of the July 1881 Disaster, and a Sunday service will take place at the Gloup memorial to commemorate the 58 fishermen who lost their lives.

Anyone wanting to just relax and soak up the incredible atmosphere will be able to enjoy the many local musicians playing throughout the days and sample local food and drink.

Cullivoe, perhaps best known for its traditional music, is playing to its strengths and the event organisers have achieved a real coup in securing some first class music acts. Folk lovers are in for a treat, with two great bands, The Chair from Orkney and Shetland’s very own Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag, performing on the evening of 18 July. This promises to be a lively highlight of the event and booking is advisable. A beer tent and barbecue will be open throughout the evening and into the early hours.

This ambitious and lively programme will culminate on the Tuesday night with local rock band No Sweat performing in what will no doubt be an energetic and memorable finale.

Barry concludes: “We’re really pleased with what we’ve managed to line up so far and hope that it will enthuse visitors from all over Shetland and beyond to take part. So far a class A and a class B ship have confirmed they will be dropping in and a number of smaller boats will also be there. Our efforts are definitely ongoing with more fundraising events planned in the build up to the arrival of the Tall Ships.

“Yell’s official programme of events will be available on both the Sail Yell and Cruise in Company facebook pages in the next few weeks.”

The Cullivoe Cruise in Company is a great example of the infectious Shetland community spirit. A warm welcome is assured for everyone and should definitely be on the calendar of things to do this summer.

A special transport service has been arranged from Lerwick and bookings for buses and ferries can be arranged through Robert Jamieson on 01957 744214.