Gloucester Schooner Festival

The 2007 Gloucester Schooner Festival is being assembled with a stellar cast. Adventure, American Eagle, Appledore III, Lettie G. Howard, Liberty Clipper, Roseway, Spirit of Massachusetts, Thomas E. Lannon. The return of Bluenose II, a perpetual visitor, we hope. Virginia, the beautiful new replica 1917 pilot schooner, on her first visit, and Pride of Baltimore II, defending against her Chesapeake rival. There is a link to the race website under Upcoming Events on this page. This will be the 23rd year for the Festival, one of the most popular schooner events of recent times. There are three classes, divided by size, and all schooners are welcome. Race applications can be downloaded from the Schooner Festival website.

In this photo by Charles Dawson of the 2000 race, America, Californian, American Eagle and Ernestina are struggling to reach the starting line. The feeble breeze and the tide are coming straight from the first mark. Although Ernestina put two dories over with a tow line, it took her more than two hours to reach the starting line. The breeze finally filled in some, and America won the Mayor's Race handily, followed by Lettie and Ernestina.

In 2005 and 2006 the Race Committee made a change to the race course "that has resulted in fewer complaints." The windward component was eliminated, making it a short reach-reach course, three times around. With the reach-reach, every participant enjoys splendid views as the fleet disperses, parade-fashion, passing close abeam again and again in both directions.

Schooner Fred, in his blog on this website in January, posted "Schooner Race Rant", making a case for restoring the windward leg to the course. Others agree. This is a no-handicap boat-for-boat race -- hardly a contest without a windward leg. Whatever the course, you can count on having a great time. Gloucester, with all those schooners, crew parties, great seafood and fishing/shipbuilding history keeps us returning every year.

Berthing for all the visiting schooners has presented some challenges in the past, but there have been recent improvements along the waterfront. A phone call to the Festival Chairman at the Chamber of Commerce (978) 283-1601 could help to secure a berth.

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