Tall Ships Challenge® Pacific Coast 2008
Seven ports along the Pacific Coast played host to the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race Series this summer. The Race Team and fleet of tall ships started in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by snowcapped mountains and favorable winds. From there, the fleet headed down the coast to the vibrant and bustling city of San Francisco, California, and then spent the month of August sailing and racing along the gorgeous Southern Californian coast.
Thirty-two vessels, some from as far away as New York, Connecticut and the British Virgin Islands, sailed into the spectacular Inner Harbour in Victoria, British Columbia. Outside of Victoria, with the Olympic Mountains rising majestically in the distance across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the first race of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® series pitted seven diverse sail training vessels against each other in a 16nm sprint to Port Angeles, Washington, with the sleek and quick Lynx the winner.
From Victoria, the fleet made their way to Tacoma, Washington, ASTA Port of the Year in 2005, for the Fourth of July weekend. Dazzling fireworks lit up the night on July 4th as revelers watched the display from the decks of “America’s Tall Ship”, the Coast Guard sail training vessel, Barque Eagle. The ships then headed back up to Canada to the two-time host city of Port Alberni, British Columbia.
For the second race of the series, the Canadian Navy’s sail training vessel, HMCS Oriole, and the privateer Lynx raced the 740 nautical miles from Port Alberni, British Columbia to San Francisco, finishing under the Golden Gate Bridge within sight of each other. The San Francisco festival was spread out along the historic Embarcadero, allowing visitor’s ample access to the ships while the crews were able to fully enjoy the downtown area of this exciting city.
From foggy San Francisco, the ships sailed down to Channel Islands Harbor in the seaside city of Oxnard, California. The third race of the series was also completed en route between Lynx and the USCG Barque Eagle, and ended in an upset when the Eagle beat the previously undefeated Lynx.
The fourth and final race of the series was sailed between Californian, Seaward and Lynx, with Seaward the winner. The ships arrived in San Pedro (Port of Los Angeles) with a spectacular Parade of Sail and for the next few days, visitors were able to board the ships berthed along a half mile of downtown waterfront.
The final port of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race Series was San Diego. The downtown venue was thronged with visitors eager to board the fleet of 25 vessels. A new addition to the fleet was the Colombian Naval ship, Gloria, which greeted Parade of Sail spectators with an enthusiastic display of national pride. As she sailed in, the cadets were lined up on the yards (all the way to very top of the masts!), singing the national anthem. Local Colombians thronged the pier, singing along to the music and enthusiastically waving the Colombian colors.
We had a great time this summer and were able to experience some truly unique aspects of the Pacific Coast. The hospitality and genuine enthusiasm displayed by the host cities for the tall ships and their crews will make this a summer we won’t soon forget. We met so many incredible, generous people along the way that 2011 can’t come soon enough!