Schooner Race DayReserve Now
Every year we race in the Gloucester Schooner Festival Race, held on Labor Day weekend. The good news is that we take passengers with us in the Race. Plan to join us onboard on Labor Day weekend for the Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival Mayor’s Race. Racing is the best way to see the big schooners up close! No matter if there is a lot of wind or hardly any breeze at all, it is always a fabulous day.
Some years we have had to turn away people who wanted to join us for Race Day, many of whom have sailed with us in previous races. Save yourself some anxiety and sign up early.
Here’s the deal: The Parade of Sail begins near Cape Pond Ice Co. All the schooners get their sails up and cruise by Stacy Boulevard for Daisy Nell’s introductions. It is a glorious sight to see.
The Parade then heads out through the outer harbor and past the Breakwater. The starting line is usually located just outside Dogbar Breakwater, off Eastern Point. The jockeying for position and strategizing for the start makes for an interesting time until the race begins, usually at 1:00 p.m. The Large and Medium Classes of Schooners start together (The Lannon is in the Medium Schooner class). The Small Schooners start 10 minutes later.
After the exciting start, the rest of the day is spent trying to win the race. The crew is constantly adjusting sail, trying to tweak just a little more speed from the sail trim. The course might be north toward Rockport and back, or south toward Magnolia and Manchester. Weather conditions are different each year, so there is no way to plan for how things will turn out. But there are always tight turns to be made around the marks and it is always a lot of fun to witness first hand.
The highlight of the 2015 race was the start. We were near the front of the pack crossing the line. Suddenly, like a freight train, the beautiful new Columbia (all 141 feet on deck) came barreling up behind us and overtook us (and the rest of the field) like we were stalled. There were several close passings and lots of fabulous photo ops. A great race. We placed third in our class.
2014 was one of the more exciting races in which we’ve participated. There was a great breeze and lots of opportunities for fabulous pictures as the big schooners sailed about. We nailed the start and were the first schooner around the first mark. The excitement onboard was tangible as the crew strategized about position, wind direction, sail trim etc., constantly tweaking the sails to get a little more speed. The close action around the marks made for a really exciting race. We didn’t win, but we had more fun than anyone else!
If you plan to join us:
Bring your lunch, binoculars, and a bag with layers of clothing. Do not forget your camera! A hat, sunglasses, sunblock, polar fleece and a windbreaker are good to include. Because of our license, no carry-on liquor is allowed. But we do have beer, wine, rum punch and champagne available for sale. Soft drinks and bottled water are included. You will be on the boat until the race is over, generally around 4:00-5:00 p.m., depending on the wind, so plan accordingly. If you think you will need an anti-nausea drug, we suggest you take something one-half hour before boarding. Bring a friend or come alone and make some new friends. Each year we welcome new faces and plenty of repeaters. Some are onboard to take pictures of the action, others are onboard to just watch the excitement. Some want to help out, others want to relax and observe. Whichever you prefer, it’s sure to be a great time. We would love to have you join us for the next Annual Schooner Festival.