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Welcome to Chicagoland

Posted by Tall Ships America on September 26, 2013

Friends Good Will

Friends Good Will

From the westernmost point on the Lakes, the ships had a long sail to get to Chicago. The fourth race started in Duluth, stretched across Lake Superior and descended down to the south of Lake Michigan, where the bright lights of Chicago awaited an eager fleet.

Once again, the ships berthed at Navy Pier, right in downtown Chicago. With the city skyline serving as a backdrop to the tall ships, it was a wonderfully picturesque venue to host the ships. This year, the tall ships shared the space with the Chicago Match Cup races. It was an interesting dichotomy between the two groups of sailing vessels – modern vs. traditional. I loved it and enjoyed watching the races take place just off the pier. The rainbow sails and the fast-paced action made it fascinating to watch. 

Sorlandet with Chicago Match Cup racers

Sorlandet with Chicago Match Cup racers

 As in previous years, we had a Parade of Sail into Chicago.  Unlike in previous years, we had to stop the parade about halfway through while a squall moved through the area. I found myself with Patti and representatives from the Coast Guard, standing on the rooftop terrace, hiding under any cover available, as the rain lashed down around us. As quickly as the weather moved in, it moved on. The parade was underway again and the ships soon safely berthed alongside the pier. We had some new additions to our fleet – Friends Good Will, Windy and Red Witch joined Appledore IV, Denis Sullivan, Hindu, Lynx, Madeline, Niagara, Pathfinder, Peacemaker, Pride of Baltimore II, Sorlandet, and Unicorn along the pier. 

Parade command

Parade command

 What followed were four glorious days of summer weather. Thousands of people poured on to Navy Pier and crossed the decks of the ships. In the middle of the event, Brian and I went up on the roof of Navy Pier to take a few photos – it was really fun:

Up on the roof...

Up on the roof…

In Chicago, we did things a little different when it came to the award ceremony. Usually, we presented the awards at the crew party but here there was a crew parade up the length of the pier and we presented them on stage. You’d be surprised at how the general public liked to be involved – five minutes earlier, they didn’t realize that the ships raced, and then they cheered and clapped louder than the crews. Race results can be seen here 

 Monday morning, we had the fifth race of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series. One of the things we found this summer, is that when it came to racing on the Great Lakes, one did have to be flexible. Instead of the 185nm race up to the top of Lake Michigan, we had to drastically shorten the race, change direction, and deal with a smaller racing pool. Due to some nasty weather that was predicted, many of the ships left prior to the start to get ahead of it and find safe harbor before the worst of the wind hit. Patti and I remained undaunted that Monday and headed out with the stalwart volunteers from the Chicago Yacht Club to set up the start line. Soon enough, Pride of Baltimore II, Lynx and Appledore IV were speeding to the finish line (which, because the weather hit sooner than expected, turned out to be a “grueling” 8nm away). No matter, it was a start, there was competition, and they finished. The fifth and final race of the summer was over. And we were that much closer to the end of our summer series…

Appledore IV sailing for the start of the final race of the TSC series

Appledore IV sailing for the start of the final race of the TSC series

A tremendous Thank You to the Chicago Yacht Club for their time and expertise!

For more photos from the Tall Ships(R) Chicago event and the race start, visit our Flickr page

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