Best Windjammer Watching on the Planet in Rockland, Maine

Rockland, MAINE— Acres of canvas will be flying as North America’s largest fleet of traditional windjammers struts past the Rockland Breakwater on the first two Fridays in July during their two signature summer events. These two events combined offer spectators and media alike one of the best historic windjammer viewing opportunities on the planet!

The Great Schooner Race: The largest gathering of traditional schooners in America

The 42nd Annual Great Schooner Race on Friday, July 6, 2018, hosted by the Maine Windjammer Association, will finish mid-afternoon at the Breakwater Lighthouse, providing spectators with easy-viewing access for the historic schooners sailing past the Rockland Breakwater to the finish line.

More than a dozen schooners are expected to race from Gilkey Harbor on Islesboro to Rockland, where their dramatic arrival will recall the days when cargo-laden schooners raced to be the first to Rockland so they might capture the best market prices. Hailed as the largest gathering of historic schooners in America, spectators will have an up-close view of this collection of beautifully preserved traditional sailing vessels from the Rockland Breakwater.

A century ago, every schooner trip was a race against time and a captain’s profits depended heavily on his crew’s sailing skills. The Great Schooner Race continues this tradition with a modern day race of these historic windjammers.

Since 1977, any traditionally rigged schooner on the Eastern Seaboard has been welcome to participate in the Maine Windjammer Association’s Great Schooner Race held in mid-coast Maine. This year marks the 42nd Annual Great Schooner Race.

Anchored for the night in Gilkey Harbor, on Thursday, July 5th, the captains will conduct small boat races and other friendly maritime competitions amongst race participants. Race Day will begin with a Captains’ Meeting aboard Maine’s largest windjammer—the Victory Chimes. There, they will set the day’s race course and classes.

Many of the participating windjammers are National Historic Landmarks, while others were built in the last century specifically for the windjamming trade. All of them are beautifully maintained maritime treasures. Spectators can cheer for their favorite schooner from the mile-long Rockland Breakwater that marks one end of the finish line; the perfect viewing point!

Maine Windjammer Association Parade of Sail

On Friday, July 13, 2018 the Maine Windjammer Association will host the annual Maine Windjammer Parade past the Rockland Breakwater from 2:00-4:00 pm. Geared for both spectators on shore and windjammer guests, this event provides close-up views of the entire fleet as it sails within a stone’s throw of the Rockland Breakwater Light.

Spectators may view the Parade of Sail from anywhere along the mile-long Breakwater. Friends of Rockland Breakwater Light will open the lighthouse up for afternoon tours—spectators are encouraged to bring their cameras for the opportunity to get great photos of the windjammers from the 25-foot tower. For spectators who need help distinguishing a ketch from a schooner or a coaster from a pilot boat, Captain Jim Sharp of the Sail, Power and Steam Museum will narrate the Parade over a PA system at the Lighthouse.

Visitors who want to participate in the Great Schooner Race or Parade of Sail, guests can choose a cruise aboard their choice of boats in the Maine Windjammer Fleet. The eight boats in the fleet offer three- to six-day cruises that include one of these events—this is a great way to see the entire fleet plus enjoy all the regular features of a sailing adventure.

For more information about the Great Schooner Race or Maine Windjammer Parade, or to seek availability and fares for Race Week or the Parade of Sail, please call the Maine Windjammer Association at 800-807-9463 or visit online at sailmainecoast.com.