The Heart of New England
The Great Schooner Race

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America's Quirkiest Sailboat Race
Held Every Year in the Midcoast of Maine

The captains are the first to admit it. The Great Schooner Race is one of the
quirkiest events in modern maritime history. There’s no set date, no
predetermined race course, spectators never know where they can view the
race, and yet, if you can find your way there, you’ll never be disappointed.

To guarantee you’re in the right place at the right time, you’ll want to set
aside the first week of July.

Asked why the race committee can’t settle on an exact date, Captain John
Foss of the American Eagle explains, “It’s all about the weather.  In the past,
we often raced ‘on schedule’ but it always compromised our sailing.  The
Race would start ‘on time’ before there was enough wind or end just when
the breezes were perfect for sailing. We’d much rather wait until the last
minute to pick a time and place that offers the best sailing experience for
our guests.”

A Casual Race...But the Largest Gathering of Schooners in America

Informality has always been a hallmark of the Great Schooner Race.  That’s
because the history of racing these magnificent wooden coasting schooners
started over a century ago with sailors trying to beat their competitors to
market.  The first boat back to port always got the best price for their cargo—
perhaps fish, lumber, granite or even Christmas trees. The “Race” was
always unspoken, but ever present.

Every summer since 1977, the Maine Windjammer Association has hosted
the Great Schooner Race, providing an opportunity for captains, crew and
guests to rendezvous for this mostly-for-fun race.  

Billed as the largest annual gathering of schooners in America as well as the
oldest, the race attracts dozens of traditional schooners from all along the
Eastern Seaboard.  Like most races, there are trophies, but nothing that ever
winds up in an elegant glass case. Bragging rights are reward enough.

No Experience Required

Contributing to its quirkiness, the Great Schooner Race is one of the only
sailing events in the world that requires no prior sailing experience on the
part of the participants!  Granted, the captain and crew are Coast Guard-
licensed and incredibly experienced sailors, but guests are encouraged to
take a turn at the helm, tend the lines, raise the anchor and sails and enjoy
the light-hearted camaraderie that quickly develops over the course of the

The afternoon before the Race, the schooners anchor and tie up alongside
each other for an evening of festivities. During this “raft-up,” guests may
tour all of the vessels, meet the captains and prepare for an exhilarating day
of sailing ahead.  

Race Week takes place every year during the first week in July.  

All 12 captains in the Maine Windjammer Association offer 3- to 6-day cruises that
coincide with the Great Schooner Race and Raft-up.  During the cruise, guests will
also enjoy Fourth of July fireworks, island forays, a beachside lobster bake and
spectacular sailing on Penobscot Bay.  

The cost for a windjammer cruise, including all meals, accommodations and
activities, is approximately $175 per person per day. For more information about
windjamming in Maine, contact the Maine Windjammer Association at P.O. Box
1144P, Blue Hill, Maine 04614, 1-800-807-WIND or check out the website at
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