2012 Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® set for May 3–7
SAVANNAH—Savannah Riverfront and Visit Savannah will host the 2012 Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® May 3–7. This unique experience will welcome some of the most majestic Tall Ships the world has to offer and is guaranteed to be one of the most colorful and spectacular ticketed festivals our city has ever seen. Fourteen Tall Ships have confirmed to participate to help Savannah celebrate our rich maritime history and recognize the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Kicking off on May 3 with the opening ceremonies in downtown Savannah’s Riverfront, visitors will be able to view all of the ships and board many of the vessels during the five-day festival, which will also include performances, reenactments, sea shanties, stilt walkers, pirates and more.
The full schedule even allows visitors the opportunity to enjoy their own private sailing excursion on participating ships with the Sail-Away Excursion package, or have dinner with the Captain at the Captain’s Dinner to be held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. The 2012 Savannah Tall Ships® will culminate with the Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® Parade of Sail up the Savannah River on Monday, May 7.
“On May 3, Savannah will be privileged to witness the majestic sight of 14 Tall Ships sailing into Savannah for five days,” said Joe Marinelli, President of Visit Savannah. “The Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® offers everyone a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these historic ships up-close in our beautiful historic city.”
This is the premier year of The Tall Ships Challenge® in Savannah, which is slated to become an annual event organized by the American Sail Training Association. The challenge will alternate in a three-year cycle between the Great Lakes, the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts of North America. These events draw hundreds of thousands of people to witness beautiful Tall Ships from the age of sail and provides a unique opportunity for the participants to interact with the crews of different schooners in friendly rivalry as they race from port to port.
Some of the Tall Ships scheduled to participate in the 2012 Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® include:
In 1960, MGM Studios built the namesake ship for the big budget spectacle Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando. Since then, the new Bounty has starred in several feature-length films including Pirates of the Caribbean II, Dead Man’s Chest and dozens of TV shows and historical documentaries.
From the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, MGM commission a new Bounty to be built from scratch. Completely seaworthy and built just the way it would have been 200 years before, the new Bounty was constructed from the original ship's drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.
After filming and a worldwide promotional tour, MGM berthed the ship in St. Petersburg as a permanent tourist attraction — where she stayed until the mid-1980s. In 1986, Ted Turner acquired the MGM film library and the Bounty along with it. He used it to promote his enterprises, and filmed Treasure Island with Charlton Heston in 1989.
Today, the Bounty is owned by the HMS Bounty Organization, LLC, which is dedicated to keeping the ship sailing and serving as a vehicle for teaching the nearly lost arts of square rigged sailing and seamanship. The organization operates a variety of programs on board including sail training programs for the general public, group leadership and teamwork training, a Sail Away Summer Camp program, and dockside educational programs for elementary and secondary school children.
The USCG Eagle is the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud line dating back to 1792. The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as SSS Horst Wessel. Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken by the United States as a war prize after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew — aided by the German crew still on board — sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its new homeport in New London, Conn. In the summer of 2005, Eagle returned to Bremerhaven for the first time since World War II and received an enthusiastic welcome.
Built during the twilight era of sail, when in homeport in New London, Eagle rests alongside a pier on the Thames River near the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Approximately 1,000 men and women attend the Academy, all of whom sail at one time or another on America's only active duty square rigger. Eagle offers future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theories they have previously learned in the classroom.
Along with her sister ship, La Belle Poule, the French Navy training schooner Etoile has been participating in the Tall Ship Race since 1958. In 2009, the Etoile and the Belle Poule crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the Tall Ship Atlantic Challenge. During World War II, both vessels relocated to Portsmouth, England, where they served the Free France Forces. The ships are permitted to fly the French ensign with the imposed Cross of Lorraine in recognition of their service during the war.
Lynx is an interpretation of an actual privateer ship named Lynx, built by Thomas Kemp built in Fell's Point, Md., 1812. She was among the first ships to defend American freedom by evading the British naval fleet then blockading American ports and serving in the important privateering efforts.
At the outbreak of the War of 1812, the American Navy consisted of only 17 ships. When a nation went to war, owners of private vessels were granted special permissions, called "letters of marque," to prey upon the enemy's shipping; thus the name "privateers." While rarely engaging enemy warships, their impact was felt by English merchants who insisted on warship escorts for their vessels. To perform this duty, warships were drawn away from engaging the scant American Navy and blockading our coast, and thus did the privateers, motivated by profit, assist in our national defense. Among the Baltimore privateers was the sharp-built tops'l schooner, Lynx.
Although captured early in the war, the original Lynx, with her rakish profile and superior sailing abilities, served as an inspiration to those ships that would follow.
The Peacemaker was built on a riverbank in southern Brazil by an Italian family of boat builders, using traditional methods and the finest tropical hardwoods. The ship was first launched in 1989 as the Avany, a name chosen by her designer and owner, Frank Walker, a Brazilian industrialist. After an initial voyage in the southern Atlantic, they brought the ship up thru the Caribbean to Savannah, where they intended to rig her as a three-masted staysail schooner. Other demands captured the attention of the Walker family and during the summer of 2000 the ship was still waiting in the Palmer-Johnson boatyard.
Purchased by the Twelve Tribes, the ship spent time in various harbors along the southeast Atlantic coast from Beaufort, S.C., to Palm Beach, Fla., until finally settling in Brunswick, Ga.
The vision for the ship is to be a seagoing representation of the life of peace and unity in that the Twelve Tribes are living on land in our many communities around the world. It will also provide apprenticeship opportunities for the group’s youth to learn many valuable and practical skills, not only in rigging, sail-making, sailing, navigation, marine mechanics and carpentry, but also in living and working together in tight quarters, as well as many cross-cultural experiences traveling from port to port.
Theodore Too Tugboat
The Tall Ships festival will also feature beloved TV and book character, Theodore Too Tugboat.
Theodore Too Tugboat, who resides in Murphy’s Cable Wharf in Halifax, Canada, was originally created by Andrew Cochran, who came up with his brilliant idea one afternoon while walking along the harbor front where he saw two tugboats and a container ship positioned so that they appeared to be having a conversation. This prompted him to tell his son bedtime stories of the possible adventures and conversations the tugs might have in the harbor. These bedtime stories soon became the basis for a children’s television show on the CBC network. As the show grew in popularity, so did the requests for more Theodore, leading to the development of Theodore merchandise and eventually the creation of a life-sized replica of the friendly tug.
Today, Theodore Too is the official Safe Boating Ambassador for the United States and Canadian Coast Guard and spends much of his time touring the Eastern Seaboard visiting friends and fans.
Along with Theodore Too Tugboat, families will appreciate the Kid’s Cove Adventure Area that will be open for children throughout the Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® five-day festival.
For a schedule of events, updated list of the Tall Ships slated to participate and to purchase tickets for the Savannah Tall Ships Challenge, visit www.savannahtallshipschallenge.com.
Tickets are available online or at the Savannah Civic Center Box Office, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. or by phone at 912.651.6557.
Find the Savannah Tall Ships Challenge® on Facebook at Savannah Tall Ships or follow us on Twitter at@SAVTallShips.