Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast Series - Race two overall

A view of the 159-foot topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II from the deck of 179-foot Barque Picton Castle during Race 2 - Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 Series
Picton Castle
Tall Ships Challenge® Atlantic Coast 2012 series second race helped rake in the crowds over the Memorial Day Weekend. Greenport, N.Y. held the second of four summer maritime festivals being coordinated by Tall Ships America along the Eastern Seaboard with the help of local organizers, but due to adverse weather conditions following the event, the scheduled race from Greenport to the Chesapeake Bay entrance was modified to a six-hour sprint with no formal start or finish.

Race two in the Tall Ships Challenge® Series, therefore, allowed vessels to compete against each other by sailing for six consecutive hours, without engines, on a course of their choice and then logging the distance covered to determine the winner. On Tuesday, May 29, the 159-foot topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II bid farewell to Greenport and eventually logged its six hours with an average speed of 12.25 knots to beat out the 179-foot Barque Picton Castle for first place. Both Picton Castle and Pride of Baltimore II and will be joining 11 other tall ships in Newport, R.I. from July 6-9 for the third maritime festival. (Nova Scotia will host the final 2012 festival from July 19-29)

According to Joe Hauser (Long Beach, Calif.), a deckhand aboard the Pride of Baltimore II: 'We arranged the best six-hour period from the day and made around fifty miles within that time frame. Every vessel could start wherever they wanted, going in any direction, under any conditions. If they thought they could do better? Well, each vessel gets four days to try and try again. We were racing ourselves.'

Hauser added that though the conditions were tough, the majority of the crewmembers had been working as a team for three months and had learned to maneuver the boat in organized watch teams. 'We could have done a little better but we also could have done a lot worse. The excitement of this sprint is over, but knowing what the boat can do and what we can handle, we are anxiously awaiting the next leg [from Newport to Cape Ann, Mass.].'

'We had a great time at the Tall Ships® Festival at Greenport,' wrote Kate Addison (Bristol, U.K.), one of the 26 crew members representing nine countries aboard Picton Castle, in her sailing log. Crowds were everywhere, enjoying the sunshine and festival atmosphere. Everyone was pumped to see the tall ships and there was live music, stalls with food and treasure, even temporary tattooing for the smaller pirates. We can get blasé about our life at sea in a ship like this and forget how special it is until we speak to the people for whom seeing big sailing ships at close quarters is a treat.'

Addison added that the crew welcomed people aboard the ship to tour their living and working quarters, which they will do again when the ship reaches Newport. 'A handful of us joined crew from other ships to represent our shared maritime heritage at the Greenport Memorial Day Parade. The ship is a war veteran herself: she served her country as HMS Picton Castle, working as a mine sweeper in the British Navy from 1939 to 1945. We are told that she was once blown clear out of the water by a mine exploding under her bow, but lucky for us it didn't do any structural damage.'

Organized by Tall Ships America in cooperation with host ports in the United States and Canada, the Tall Ships Challenge® series alternates between the Great Lakes and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America in a three-year cycle. While in port, the ships are open to the public for viewing, and many feature dockside exhibits and lively interactions with crew. Each ship has its own educational mission and style, providing the American public with a rich selection of programs, all conforming to Tall Ships America’s credo: Adventure and Education Under SailTM. Between ports, the vessels can compete in corresponding offshore races that are optional to participating tall ships.

Over the past decade, the series has included more than sixty events in 32 cities, stimulating strong tourism and economic development through associated family-friendly festivals. In 2013, all eyes will be on the Tall Ships Challenge® Great Lakes Series, when the ships will visit over 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada to continue the commemoration of the events of the War of 1812, including a re-creation of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie.

For a list of participating tall ships click here.

On the docks in Greenport, N.Y. for the Memorial Day Weekend maritime festival - Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 Series

Tall Ships America website