Michelle Daurat has been placed at the helm of The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 – after steering an earlier event to success.

On July 11, 2018, a fleet of up to 80 vessels will arrive at the port of Sunderland, at the North East coast, in preparation for The Tall Ships Races 2018.

Daurat will be the driving force behind four days of celebrations at the city, which is the event’s host port, before the ships depart for Esbjerg, Denmark.

Eight years ago, Daurat – who is also head of business and operations at National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland – project managed the races when Hartlepool was picked as the host port.

Not only did the 2010 event – gold winner at the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2012 –  attract around one million visitors to the town but it also gave a £26 million boost to the North East’s economy.

Now, Daurat and her four-strong team are working around the clock to ensure the Sunderland event proves even more successful.

“The Tall Ships Races is Europe’s largest, free, family festival and around 1,500,000 people are expected to visit Sunderland over the four-day event,” she said.

“And whether they have come to explore the ships, cheer the young people from across the UK who will be crewing the vessels or simply see what the city has to offer, we promise them an unforgettable visit.”

The entertainment – which will include street theatre, food and refreshments, displays and live music – will be spread across five event zones, beginning on July 11 when the ships will lower their gangways to visitors and crews will take part in inter-ship sporting activities.

On July 12, the programme of culture and entertainment continues when a Crew Parade will weave through the city from the Port, bringing a carnival atmosphere to the streets, followed by a prize-giving ceremony at Keel Square.

On July 13, celebrations will continue as the ships’ Captains receive their briefing from Sail Training International officials prior to their departure for Esbjerg and the sail trainees taking part in the Races will arrive to join their ships.

There will also be a major artistic commission on the riverside and the Summer Streets Festival will open its doors in the evening at Seaburn’s Recreation Park.

Finally, on July 14, the ships will take part in a spectacular Parade of Sail, past the coastal resorts of Roker and Seaburn, with onshore entertainment continuing well into the evening.

“In logistical terms, this is a massive operation, bringing together a vast number of participants from across the city and further afield,” Daurat said.

“Sunderland was once the biggest shipbuilding town in the world with a maritime heritage second to none – and it is also my home town, so I am incredibly proud to be involved with this event and determined to do it justice.”