The festivities associated with the Great Chesapeake Schooner Race 2017 kick off tomorrow at 10 AM with a “Salute to Schooners,” where schooners and other vessels will “fire” cannons, horns, etc. On land, students from Baltimore City schools will sing and play a musical tribute to the USA. From 1700-1900 hours, (5PM – 7 PM) the schooners will be available for viewing dockside in Canton at the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point.
Wednesday will feature educational programs on certain schooners and dockside viewing from 10 AM to 2 PM. A Parade of sail will begin at 5 PM. The public is invited to view the schooners from the Canton, Fells Point, Harbor East and Inner Harbor shorelines. Click here for a more detailed schedule of events.
The race itself starts on Thursday featuring 30 schooners ranging from the Class AA Pride of Baltimore II to the Class C, Peanut. The starting line is just south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis. The schooners will race down the bay to Portsmouth, VA. The finish line for Class A & AA schooners will at Thimble Shoals Light, while the race will end for Class B and C schooners at Windmill Point. Click here for a list of schooners in the racing fleet.
The race website describes the history of the race: Schooner racing on the Chesapeake Bay is rooted in the trade rivalry between Baltimore, Maryland, at the northern end of the Bay, and Portsmouth/Norfolk, Virginia, at the southern end. The fastest sailing vessels delivered goods and people to their destinations and often garnered the best price for their cargo by beating slower schooners into port. Over the years, commercial schooner designs evolved for the bay’s routes, taking into consideration shallow waters, local crops and regional needs, with speed being a primary concern to beat competitively loaded vessels into port. These schooners also played a critical role in our nation’s early wars. While there are no cargo-hauling schooners now working the Bay, there are a considerable number of schooners still in use as cruising vessels and privately owned boats.
In 1990, a weekend in October was set aside for what had become an annual event, and yacht clubs at the northern and southern ends of the race volunteered to support the schooners and crews in their efforts….
With the growth of the event and the resulting focus on these vintage sailing craft, the organizers and sponsors elected soon after the start of the event to maximize the value of the race in very special ways. The race brings focus to the maritime traditions of schooners on the Chesapeake and brings attention to the environmental issues facing the Chesapeake. All net proceeds of the race are donated to support youth education efforts aimed at saving the bay. This is why the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is proud to say that we are “Racing to Save the Bay!”