Schooners race across bay for 36th year
Camden — The 36th annual Great Schooner Race converged on Penobscot Bay, racing between Rockland and Camden harbors, July 6.
The race, hosted by the Maine Windjammer Association, was met with blue skies and fair winds, making for a great day on the water.
A total of 19 schooners raced from the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse to Camden Harbor in multiple classes based on vessel size, history and design. All the boats participating are based in Rockland, Rockport and Camden.
The race was to end at a buoy bell near Curtis Island, but the "wind was so nice they added an extra leg," said Meg Maiden, marketing director of the Maine Windjammer Association.
Informality has always been a hallmark of the Great Schooner Race. That’s because the history of racing these wooden coasting schooners started more than a century ago with sailors trying to beat their competitors to market. The first boat back to port always got the best price for their cargo — perhaps fish, lumber, granite or even Christmas trees. The “race” was always unspoken, but ever present, according to Maine Windjammer Association.
"It's not about who wins, but about who has the most fun," Maiden said.
Unlike most sailing events that involve a high degree of skill and training, the Great Schooner Race welcomed many first-time sailors to participate. Guests learn the basics of sailing in the few days leading up to the race, or even hours, as in the case with several schooners in this year’s event. While the captains and their licensed crews are responsible for safety and strategy, guests get to steer, handle sails and contribute to the schooner spirit that is the hallmark of this event, according to a news release from Maine Windjammer Association.
This is the first time in many years an exact date has been set for the race. In other years, a week was selected and the nicest day was picked for the race, according to the release.
This reporter gathered these shots from aboard a Wayfarer whaler.
Overall winner of the race was the Victory Chimes, who made it to Camden first. Winners in the other divisions were: Flying Jib class, Appledore; Coaster Class, Grace Bailey; Leeward Class, Stephen Taber; Windward Class, American Eagle.
Another chance to catch these boats under sail is during the 8th annual Maine Windjammer Parade, scheduled for Friday, July 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. The Rockland windjammers will host tours aboard of the American Eagle, Heritage, Isaac H. Evans, Nathaniel Bowditch and Stephen Taber on Saturday, July 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Northend Shipyard or Windjammer Wharf (off Tillson Avenue).