All ship shape and ready for Pirate Day

The replica pirate ship
The replica pirate ship

AN AMERICAN football team has donated a replica pirate ship for this year’s Pirate Day festivities.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Florida thought the gift would be a fitting tribute to mark Hastings’ fifth annual event, which will be held on Sunday, July 21.

The boat is 14 metres long, four metres wide and around six metres high. It is currently in several parts at a secret location in St Leonards.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ mascot is a full-size buccaneers’ ship that takes up one whole end of their stadium, which cost $3 million.

The replica donated to Hastings was built for the team’s game against the Chicago Bears in the International Series Match at Wembley Stadium in 2011.

Roger Crouch, organiser of Pirate Day, said: “This all came about after I was offered the boat by the team’s agent, Alex Weller. This was just before Christmas last year.

“The ship was taken apart after the Wembley game and put into storage. Alex was asked to find a new home for it, so he contacted me and thought the boat would be a good recognition of what Hastings has achieved through Pirate Day.

“A massive thanks should go to Dave French, from Frenchs skip hire, as when I asked him how much it would cost to bring the ship to Hastings, he just said he would deem it an honour to bring it. He did it at no cost at all because Dave loves this town, and without him we would not have found somewhere to store it.

“We hope to have the pirate ship fully assembled in Queen’s Square in Priory Meadow by July 4, which would be a nice link, seeing as July 4 is Independence Day in the USA.

“After Pirate Day the boat will have a permanent home in Hastings, which is yet to be decided.”

Steve McEwen, marketing and events manager for NFL International, said: “The pirate ship was given to Hastings by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL after it was built for the NFL Fan Rally in Trafalgar Square before the Buccaneers played the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in October 2011.

“It is a miniature version of the ship that famously sits in the endzone at the Buccaneers’ home ground, Raymond James Stadium.”

This year Hastings will not be attempting to smash the current Guinness world record title it holds for having the largest number of pirates in one place.

Last year a total of 14,231 sea dogs, buccaneers and Jack Sparrow wannabes gathered on the beach opposite St Mary-in-the-Castle and helped smash the world record.

In June 2011 Penzance in Cornwall packed in 8,734 pirates in one place, beating the previous world record held by Hastings in August 2010.

This year there will be sword fighting, music, cannon and firearm demonstrations among a host of pirate-related events.

One of the highlights will be a group of skydiving pirates arriving in Hastings by plane with skull and crossbones flags.

Full details of Pirate Day will be on in due course.