More than 30 schooner-rigged vessels will race in the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay in the 25th Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race next week.
Starting near Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 16, the schooners will sail 127 nautical miles through the night and cross the finish line in Hampton Roads, docking in Portsmouth, Va., on Oct. 17. Considered a world class racing event by sailing enthusiasts, the race and related activities are supported by more than 300 volunteers representing four boat clubs: Fells Point Yacht Club in Baltimore, Portsmouth Boat Club, Towne Point Yacht Club in Norfolk, and Broad Bay Sailing Association in Virginia Beach. Hundreds of donors also contribute to the success of the race.
With the motto “Racing to Save the Bay,” the annual event is held to promote awareness of the Chesapeake Bay’s maritime heritage and to encourage the preservation and improvement of the Bay’s natural resources.
At the conclusion of the race each year, organizers have generously given a portion of the proceeds to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), whose mission is to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
What started out in 1990 as a challenge between the tugantine sailing vessel Norfolk Rebel and the Pride of Baltimore II has grown into an event bringing together the largest collection of schooners in the world, the only overnight race, and the premier event for schooners in the country, according to race organizers.
More than 150 different schooners have participated since the event was started, said Al Roper, president of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. To date, the race has raised more than $167,000 for CBF’s environmental education programs for students and teachers, all donated in memory of race founder and mentor Captain Lane Briggs and his seagoing family.
“We also have great fun,” Roper added. “I hope people will visit the schooners in Baltimore and Portsmouth, chat with their crews, and learn more about these beautiful boats, the Chesapeake Bay, and Bay restoration efforts.”
“The Schooner Race is an extraordinary volunteer effort, a challenging sailing race, and a wonderful event – all for a serious purpose,” said Elizabeth Buckman, CBF vice president for communications and a former Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race board member and sailor. “In fact, the race is among the oldest supporters of CBF’s education programs. Thanks to its generous donations over the year, thousands of school students have had the opportunity to participate in CBF’s award-winning, on-the-water educational programs that bring to life to what they read in text books.”
The 2014 Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race event highlights include:
Dockside viewing: Monday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Schooners may be viewed dockside in Canton at the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point. Some may be open for tours.
Education Program: Wednesday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m. — Selected schooners host area students for a hands-on learning experience in Canton at the Baltimore Marine Center at Lighthouse Point.
Parade of Sail: Wednesday, Oct. 15, 5 p.m. — The public is invited to view the schooners from the Canton, Fells Point, Harbor East, and Inner Harbor shorelines as they proceed to Baltimore’s docking area.
Cast-off for the Start: Thursday, Oct. 16, 8:30 a.m. — Participating vessels will travel 21 nautical miles from Baltimore to Annapolis.
Race Start: Thursday, Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m. — Some 35 schooners line up at the starting line just south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis, and set sail for the southern end of the Bay, about 127 nautical miles away.
Crossing the Finish Line: Friday, Oct. 17, time to be determined depending on weather conditions, often before dawn, off Hampton’s coast. Vessels then make their way past downtown Norfolk on the Elizabeth River at various times on Friday.
Education Program: Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. — Selected schooners host area students for a hands-on learning experience dockside in downtown Portsmouth.
Public Viewing: Saturday, Oct. 18 — Many of the vessels will dock in downtown Portsmouth, and some will be open for tours.
A complete schedule is available on the race website, http://schoonerrace.org/schedule.htm.