Tall Ships Today
Tall ships, by nature, conjure up images of beautiful examples of historic, traditionally rigged sailing vessels from bygone days that sailed the seven seas in all their grandeur. In those days however there were many outside influences that made sailing in these tall ships a hazardous journey. Take for example the perils of pirate intervention and disease that ran rife due to the small amounts of water and food that could be carried on board. Plus these tall ships were prone to capsizing in heavy seas and storms. A very different story from today’s Tall ships, the opportunities they offer today – and their modern day meaning.
Nowadays the definition of “Tall Ships” has become more closely associated with a an actual event or race for tall ships. So let’s take a look at how this all came about.
In 1955 a London solicitor, Bernard Morgan, had the idea of organising a race to bring together the last of the world’s great square-rigged ships. He obtained the support of Earl Mountbatten, and together with influential people in the sailing world, an organising committee was formed and went to work. The result was a spectacular race from Torbay to Lisbon in 1956 which caught the imagination not only of the public, but also of the media who coined the phrase “Tall Ships’ Race.” It was judged to be such a success that the Committee formed the Sail Training Association, in order that the Races could be put on a more permanent footing.
For over 50 years Sail Training International has been organising Tall Ships Race events for those vessels engaged in providing sail training to young people (ages 15-25). There are estimated to be about 1,000 Tall Ships around the world working either full or part-time in sail training. Some of these vessels are specially adapted to provide places for trainees with physical or mental challenges which would normally preclude them from such adventure based activities. They also cater and provide a number of tall ship places for young people from socially or economically deprived backgrounds.
Many young people participating in these Tall Ships race events describe it as making a real change in their lives with opportunities to develop key life skills such as team work, increased self-esteem and confidence, personal responsibility and leadership skills. And because the opportunities are worldwide they can also develop a greater awareness, understanding and respect for people from differing cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.
Today there are numerous Tall Ships events held all over the world including the Mediterranean, Adriatic, North America and The Caribbean, alongside the well-established North Sea and Baltic events. Public interest is immense – making Tall Ships Race Events one the world’s largest spectator attendance of any sport of exhibition worldwide.
And don’t worry there’s plenty of opportunity for those over the age of 25 to experience the wonder of sailing on these tall ships.
If you’re more of the adventurous type looking to take part in a hands-on role in a leg of a Tall Ships race there are a number of organisations worldwide that organise these trips. Alternatively at the other end of the spectrum you can also enjoy a luxury experience aboard a tall ship in the Caribbean – where you can dream of swashbuckling pirates without the fear of actually seeing them!