Tall Ships Challenge® Pacific Coast 2008
A fleet of over thirty tall ships participated in the 2008 TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race Series. Beginning on June 25th in Victoria, British Columbia, the fleet stopped in Tacoma, Washington, Port Alberni, BC and then continued down the coast of California to San Francisco, Oxnard, the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro), San Diego and Dana Point.
Many of the vessels offered programs of adventure and education under sail for the public. These programs differed from ship to ship. Some were designed for youth while others were primarily for adults. All, however, allowed the trainee-participants the rare opportunity to experience the challenge and learn the skills of traditional seafaring.
The first port of call for the series was the beautiful Canadian city of Victoria. Organized by the Victoria Tall Ships Society, the festival ran from June 26-29 and reflected the strong maritime traditions that are still prevalent in the city today. The festival will featured wooden boat-building and sail making, along with live entertainment, children’s programs of scrimshaw carving, model boat building and other activities designed to draw upon the excitement that the tall ships generate. The fleet that berthed downtown numbered over twenty, and included America’s Tall Ship, the USCG Barque Eagle and, for the first time, the Niña, a replica of the caravel that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in the 15th century.
From Victoria, the fleet entered their first race of the series to Port Angeles, WA. Traditionally, when two or more ships meet each other at sea and are headed in the same direction, an impromptu race usually ensues. Five races were scheduled, one between each port, providing the crews ample opportunity to test their sailing ability and embrace their competitive spirit.
The ships arrived on July 3rd to Tall Ships® Tacoma, presented by State Farm Insurance. About thirty vessels, including favorites Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington, were the main attraction in the maritime festival and served as a backdrop to live music, educational events, exhibits and a Fourth of July celebration. As an added draw to the dockside attractions of the port festivities in the Pacific Northwest, the tall ship HMS Bounty, built in Nova Scotia for the movie " Mutiny on the Bounty", was on hand to provide deck tours.
In keeping with a desire to put kids on board ships, the organizers of the event, Tacoma Tall Ships Organization, put 50 youth on four ships for three days to experience life at sea onboard a historic vessel.
The ships then cruised-in-company over to the western coast of Vancouver Island for the next port of call in Port Alberni, British Columbia, a two-time TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® port. A fleet of vessels, including the Niña and Bounty, gathered in this picturesque city from July 10-12 to participate in the city’s nautical- themed events and celebration of the 150th anniversary of British Columbia becoming a Crown Colony of the British Empire. It was a spectacular Parade of Sail as the ships sailed down the Alberni Inlet with the dramatic Coastal Mountain Range in the background.
Produced by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, the Festival of Sail San Francisco ran from July 23rd to the 27th. Once in San Francisco, the ships were berthed along the historic Embarcadero on San Francisco Bay. With the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, the crews of the fifteen tall ships were able to explore this historic and culturally diverse city. The masts of the ships were a spectacular background for visitors as they enjoyed all the city and the ships had to offer. Festival of Sail’s footprint included three villages focused on marine education, international cultures and the environment. Each featured entertainment, food and beverage, and a wide variety of exhibitors.
From San Francisco, the ships raced to the seaside town of Oxnard on August 7th and stayed until the 10th for the Tall Ships® Festival organized by the Channel Islands Harbor Foundation, Inc. The maritime festival included dockside tours, educational programs, sail training opportunities for those that wanted to have a hands-on experience, pirate camp, civil war re-enactors and live entertainment. There were shipboard educational activities for the young tall ship enthusiasts.
The ships then continued down the coast to San Pedro for Festival of Sail Los Angeles, organized by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute and the City and Port of Los Angeles. The event ranfrom August 13-17. A half mile of downtown San Pedro waterfront played host to the fleet, while visitors were able to learn about the history and craft of sailing. In addition to all the maritime events, crews were able to explore the glitz and glamour that is Los Angeles. Movie star vessels such as the HMS Bounty (of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame) and HMS Surprise (formerly HMS Rose of "Master and Commander") were on hand to add some swashbuckling fun to all the planned festivities.
From August 20-24th, the final port of call in the race series was San Diego, a spectacular waterfront venue and site of the largest naval fleet in the world. The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® fleet was greeted by ships from the US Navy, Coast Guard and San Diego Harbor Police during the Parade of Sail into the San Diego Bay. Special exhibits were presented through the San Diego Maritime Museum, along with historical re-enactors and cannon battles out on the bay.
Many of the ships returned north to the Toshiba Tall Ships® Festival hosted by the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, September 6th and 7th. Sunset cannon battles, family-oriented interactive presentations of live ocean animal, climbing and sail furling, and local art and crafts, were set against the rugged and beautiful coast of Dana Point.
The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race Series rotates among the North American coasts and the Great Lakes on a 3-4 year basis. The 2009 series will return the ships to the Atlantic Coast for a transatlantic event, the TALL SHIPS® ATLANTIC CHALLENGE, jointly organized by Sail Training International and Tall Ships America. The ships will then be in the Great Lakes for 2010.