Winners waved off.
Four sailing enthusiasts set off for the high seas last night [Friday] after winning a Journal competition to celebrate the Tall Ships coming to the North-East.
Kit Woodward[correct], Robert Hughes, Steve Vogel [correct] and Conoli Askoy [correct]won a weekend onboard the James Cook after persuading judges they deserved the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
They set off from the Royal Quays, North Shields, for a sailing weekend alongside members of staff from property investment company Grainger Trust, who are sponsoring the Tall Ships Race.
The shipmates will undergo a weekend of practical sailing sessions with a qualified member of the ship's crew, as they learn the ropes and bunk down with the team to get a flavour of real life on board ship.
Entrepreneur Kit Woodward, 62, of Farne Road, Shilbottle, Northumberland, said: "My wife entered the competition in The Journal, but nominated me to take the trip as she knows it has always been a dream of mine to sail on a ship like the James Cook.
"I have recently recovered from a stroke, so going on this trip means a lot to me. I would like to thank The Journal and Grainger Trust for giving me the opportunity to do it." Social worker Robert Hughes, 51, of Crook Gate Bank, Burnopfield, County Durham, said: "It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I just hope the weather is not too rough."
The third winner, Conoli Askoy, 42, is from Gateshead. The fourth, Steve Vogel, 43, is from Morpeth.
NewcastleGateshead Tall Ships manager Phil Payne [correct] last night said: "Grainger Trust has really got involved with the spirit of the festival and this weekend is a great way to emphasise the sail-training aspect of the Tall Ships Race itself.
"It's been fantastic working with Grainger Trust as key sponsors of the festival and this weekend marks the excitement across the region now that the real countdown to the race arriving in the city is getting under way."
Mandy Kinnear, [correct] of Grainger Trust, said: "When we originally got involved in this great event, we knew we wanted to be more than just a sponsor.
"This weekend's sailing adventure on the James Cook offered us a fantastic opportunity to kickstart the preparations for the festival in July while giving four people from the area a chance to join us and become part of the whole sailing experience.
"The Tall Ships Races will provide a great window to showcase the North-East and the cultural diversity that lies at its heart."
The crew will return to the Royal Quays tomorrow afternoon for a well-earned rest after their adventure on the James Cook.