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Tall Ships races set sail from Northern Ireland to Norway

The Tall Ships have set sail from Northern Ireland's north coast - starting the week-long race to the next stop: Aalesund, Norway.

After yesterday's parade from Belfast, the vessels made their way to the race start area overnight - about five miles from Portrush.

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The four classes of ships left the start line on Monday afternoon, 55.16 north 006.48 west off Lough Foyle.

The beginning of the races marks the end of Belfast's hugely successful maritime festival. Belfast City Council said 200,000 people visited the event on Saturday alone.

Ninety sailing trainees from Northern Ireland are taking part in the opening sail to the Norwegian port, which could take up to a week.

The start line is formed by two published waypoints just over two miles apart. Each class has a defined start window in which to cross the start line in.

The vessel records its own start time itself – this is known as a self-declared start.

The fleet will then make tactical decisions on their route based on wind direction and the weather forecast for the coming days.

There are four designated waypoints en-route to the finish line off Ålesund, Norway.

The shortest route is via the channel between the Hebrides and Scottish mainland which is known as The Minch, but some vessels may decide to go west of the Hebrides.

The fleet will then decide whether to sail to the east between the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands, or continue on a more northerly track sailing to the west of the Shetlands.

They then head to north east across the North Sea towards Ålesund Norway.

The races are expected to finish in Aalborg in Denmark at the start of August.

Read more:

Belfast says bon voyage to Tall Ships spectacular  

Tall Ships visit puts wind into the sails of Belfast tourist industry  

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