Tall Ships® Come to Great Lakes

An official Tall Ships® and related Tall Ships® Events have been scheduled for the Great Lakes in 1998. From July 17 though August 10, dozens of historic vessels will grace Lake Michigan and visit the ports of Chicago, IL (July 17-20); South Haven, MI (July 24-27); Milwaukee, WI (July 30-31); and Racine, WI (Aug. 6-9). At each of these official ports of call, the ships will join spectacular celebrations of North America’s maritime heritage and ASTA’s continuing cultivation of the seagoing experience under sail. The Chicago Tall Ships® Festival will coincide with the 100th anniversary year of the annual 333-mile Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. Famous as the world’s longest freshwater sailboat race, the competition hosts up to 300 grand-prix boats and takes approximately 2.5 days to complete. "It should be quite a sight as we give the ASTA vessels a start for a lakefront race on July 18, right before we send off the Mackinac fleet," said Don Glasell, chairman of Chicago Yacht Club’s 100th Anniversary Mackinac Planning Committee. Glasell added that the ships will return to Navy Pier by day’s end for public display and access while the grand-prix fleet makes its way to Mackinac Island. On July 21, the ASTA vessels will again get a starting gun for the official Tall Ships® Race leg from Chicago to South Haven.

tallship.JPG (15364 bytes)"The spectacle of ASTA ships will be unlike anything seen on these waters since our Nation’s Bicentennial celebration," said Kenneth Pott, curator for the Michigan Maritime Museum, which will host the South Haven Tall Ships® Event. Pott explained that, like Chicago and ASTA’s other chosen ports of call, South Haven is planning a series of special activities for shipboard crews and guests as well as the visiting public, expected to number in the tens of thousands.

A Cruise in Company, to start on July 28, will deliver the ships from South Haven to Milwaukee, where they will highlight the state of Wisconsin’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations. "The celebrations and welcoming of Wisconsin’s Flagship to the fleet will gather historians, mariners, educators, tourists, craftspeople, children, students and citizens throughout the state," said Carrie O’Malley, director of operations and communications for the Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association, Milwaukee’s hosting organization. She noted that over the same weekend of the Tall Ships® visit, the city of Milwaukee will host the Governor’s National Convention in which President Clinton and Vice President Gore are expected to participate.

On August 3, the second leg of the Tall Ships® Race will begin, taking the ships from Milwaukee to their final destination in Racine, Wisconsin. "Tall ships played a significant role in Racine’s economic growth during the 19th century, said Pat Boelter, vice president, development and public relations for All Saints Healthcare System, the sponsor of Sail Racine 1998®. "Next summer, many visiting ships will be open for public boarding and evening sails. Activities also will include a gala celebration, fireworks, period reenactors, antique boats, historic displays and many children’s activities."

According to ASTA’s Executive Director Pamela Dewell Smith, "tall ships" can range from square riggers to historic vessels of no less than 30 feet in the waterline. "In all cases, at least half the people on board will be between the ages of 15 and 25, in keeping with our ongoing mission to facilitate and showcase safe, educational, and diverse programs for youths and adults wishing to participate in learning experiences at sea."

The American Sail Training Association also recently announced its participation in The Gold Rush Race®, scheduled for 1999 and organized by the California Sesquicentennial the Nautical Heritage Society and ASTA to commemorate the California Gold Rush of 1849.

For more information, contact: American Sail Training Association at 401-846-1775, FAX 401-849-5400, email asta@sailtraining.org, or view www.tallships.sailtraining.org.