Tall Ships Racing Days
"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 gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking." ~ John Masefield
The Tall Ships' Races are an annual summer series held in European waters, where ports along the route will host sailing festivals. Between 1973 and 2003 the races were known as The Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races after their sponsor, Cutty Sark whisky, a spirits company whose name referenced the famous namesake British sailing ship, the Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark was built on the River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, and is one of the last tea clippers to be built before the advent of steam propulsion.
The Tall Ships' Races are races for sail training "tall ships" (sailing ships). The races are designed to encourage international friendship and training for young people in the art of sailing. The races are held annually in European waters and consists of two racing legs of several hundred nautical miles, and a "cruise in company" between the legs. Over one half (fifty-percent) of the crew of each ship participating in the races must consist of young people.
A tall ship is a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. Author and master mariner Joseph Conrad (who spent 1874 to 1894 at sea in tall ships and was quite particular about naval terminology) used the term "tall ship" in his works; for example, in The Mirror of the Sea in 1903, which suggests that the term was common parlance among his fellow mariners in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Traditional rigging may include square rigs and gaff rigs, usually with separate topmasts and topsails and is generally more complex than modern rigging, which utilizes newer materials such as aluminum and steel to construct taller, lightweight masts with fewer, more versatile sails.
For more on this year's races, click the Cutty Sark painting!