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Tall Ships 2016

Each year, the Tall Ships America organization, which focuses on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of the maritime heritage of North America, sponsors the Tall Ships Challenge. The Tall Ships Challenge brings together some of the world’s most beautiful and majestic sailing vessels for races, events and educational activities. New locations for the races and events are selected annually.

In July, nine of the ships stopped in Fairport Harbor as part of their summer Great Lakes Regatta. For three days, the ships docked at Fairport allowing the public to take tours, ask questions and admire the stunning craftsmanship and authentic reproductions of these ships. As part of the festivities, the ships began with a sunset “Parade of Sail” around Fairport Harbor. Hundreds of people lined the shores to watch. Others watched from their own boats. At the lighthouse, we watched from high atop the tower – a unique vantage point like no other.

During the three-day festival, many of the ships took lucky (and paying) passengers for rides. There were other more exclusive events and pirates roamed the town freely. But being at the lighthouse offered an additional opportunity to see the ships individually as they arrived and departed. A special memory for me was that as I was giving a tour to a group of seniors from one of the Lake Metroparks programs, one of the ships passed by the window in front of which they were standing. I told them to turn around and look and they watched it sail into the harbor. It was a beautiful sight. The sight of such beautiful ships carrying with them years of history was unsurpassed. If you get the chance, I highly recommend attending a Tall Ship Challenge.

Editor’s Note: In July 2017, several of the Tall Ships came back to Fairport. This time not for an official Tall Ships Challenge event, but rather as part of Fairport Harbor’s “Harbor Fest”, which featured a “living history” exhibition, food vendors and entertainment. While there was not the pageantry of the 2016 event, the ships that attended Harbor Fest were still magnificent and well worth a tour.

Photos by Bruce Bennett, Brian Fowler and Laura Urban.

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