“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.”
——- Sea Fever by John Masefield (1902)
Starting with the introduction of the Spanish galleon in the 16th century, sailing ships predominated international trade, travel and naval warfare for 300 years. During the early 20th century, faster steam-powered vessels began to be used to transport cargo and supplies, and sailing ships eventually disappeared from commercial trade. By the mid-20th century, the tall ship* was a thing of the past.
In the early 1950’s, London solicitor, Bernard Morgan, and Portuguese Ambassador to the UK, Dr. Pedro Theotonio Pereira, began working on an idea to bring together and train young seamen from around the world in a friendly sailing competition. Their vision became a reality in 1956 when 20 of the world’s remaining large sailing ships participated in the first Tall Ships Race from Torquay, England to Lisbon, Portugal. In response to the overwhelming public interest, race organizers founded Sail Training International to plan and direct future events, and Tall Ship Races have been held annually in various parts of the world, attracting more than a hundred ships and millions of spectators.
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta (April 13 – September 3, 2017), organized by Sail Training International in association with Le Rendez-Vous Naval de Quebec, was a 7,000 nautical mile transatlantic race comprising of 5 legs and stops in 6 countries, including more than 35 Canadian ports in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The final leg took the ships from Halifax, Canada to Le Havre, France (August 31 – September 3), Normandy’s biggest city and the largest container shipping port in France.
If you missed the live stream broadcast of the Nova Scotia – Annapolis Royal Sail Past in 2017, there’s still time to watch a video recording of these historic, majestic beauties: Wylde Swan, St Lawrence II, Bowdoin, Lord Nelson, When and If, Picton Castle, and Bluenose II. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button located on the media player below ↓
*The term tall ship is often used to describe any large, classic, sailing ship, including schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques, but tall ship also has a technical definition and there are classifications related to rigging and length.
Sail Training International – Tall Ships Race Events and sail training opportunities
Tall Ships America
Tall Ships Tracking Map: sailwx.info
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Feature photo is courtesy of Flickr user, David D, CC BY 2.0