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Tall Ships Races - You can become the Race Crew

Sailing a Tall Ship as part of the Tall ships Race in 2012

Tall Ship Racing - What is it Like ?

Classic Sailing is fortunate to be able to offer a wide range of tall ship racing experiences for those who want hands on sailing as ships crew. Tall Ships Races are perhaps the most intense voyage we offer in terms of sail handling, standing watches through the night, and pushing mighty ships as hard as they would have sailed when carrying profitable cargoes or chasing an enemy or prize ship. 

Looking astern when dawn breaks to find you have overtaken a huge four masted Russian ship or a sleek schooner after a night of exhausting sail changes and work aloft, creates an elation shared by the whole ship. Its all about the team - your watch, and the ships company - whatever your age or physical strengths. Before you know it, even the most disorganised person finds themselves preparing their clothes and boots so you can leap into them in an instant for 'all hands on deck' call.

There are also periods of reflection, where a whole fleet may be ghosting long in light winds, when normally the Captain might reach for the 'iron topsail' (engine). Some tall ship race legs last 2-3 days, but some are more epic. In the past we have offered tall ships races around Cape Horn. In 2013 you can race from Sydney to Auckland - a passage of over 900 miles. In 2017 is the next Trans Atlantic Tall Ships Race from Europe to Canada.

working aloft on Tenacious.Brothers & Sisters of the Sea

The internationalism of the fleet is one of the joys; At the height of the Iraq War, young Omani Arabs were dancing in the streets at end of race festivals with American and British teenagers. At the height of the Cold War Russian ship Khruzhenstern was already a favourite of the fleet; After the Falklands, the first Argentinian ship in a British port was their tall ship Libertad.

Tall Ship voyages also involve a period in port before or after the race where the public are keen to come and see the fleet. The host ports put on a show for the public as well as events for tall ship crews.  These colourful gatherings are an opportunity to see waterfront harbours at their best and meet fellow sailors from all over the world.  If you are a purist sailor who wants to sail every day then you may prefer a tall ship voyage that is not part of a tall ship race event. Some voyages 

"There is something about joining the Tall Ships Fleet that defies cynicism. Sailing these great vessels is not just a sport, and not just sentimentality. It fuses the old skills of laborious teamwork and communal courage with a new pattern of adventure and internationalism. Even the most timid and unfit deck workers find themselves rising to the task, inspired by the natural beauty of the sea and the human beauty of the great ships, and the people who sail them." Libby Purves


 ‘Adventure: Earths Most Thrilling Experiences’  is a 250 page travel book produced by Time Out Guides Ltd

Read one of their adrenalin choices: "Crew a Tall Ship"  by seasoned sailor and journalist Libby Purves 



Girls sweating and tailing at the bracesWho Can take Part in Tall Ship Races?

No experience is needed but a good level of general fitness is required. Classic Sailing are always actively seeking tall ships events suitable for all ages, however some Tall Ships Races may have quotas on crew aged over 25 as they are organised by sail training organisations and generally aimed at young people to promote international friendship. Tall Ship racing is a great way to meet new people of all nationalities, visit some wonderful ports and have an experience of a lifetime. Ring us for advice.

Going aloft on the square rigged vessels is a great buzz, but not for everyone. The opportuntity and the training to work aloft is there for everyone, but if you decide it is not your thing then there is plenty to get to grips with at deck level or out on the bowsprit.  Many sailing ships that take part do not have square sails anyway so there is no need to go aloft to set sails.

Tall Ships Races 2014

There are major Tall Ships Races in 


Dream for the Future ?

Make sure you sign up for our e newsletters (see bottom of the page)  to be kept up to date with new sailing programmes and tall ship opportunties as they come up. We also have plenty of stories and photos on classic sailing Facebook daily.

See our forward planning pages on:

2014 Three Tall Ships Races in - North Sea - Black Sea - Falmouth to Greenwich

2015 Tall Ships Race - Belfast - Norway - Denmark

2016 Tall Ships Races

2017 for the next Trans Atlantic Tall Ships Race - Europe - Canaries USA-Canada-France

Want to sail a tall ship, but not racing ?

We have many tall ship voyages each year from day sails in Auckland or the UK to wildlife expeditions in Antarctica, The Arctic, or somewhere warmer like the South Pacific or Cape Verde. Island hopping and mountain backdrops are some of our favourite destinations from Azores to St Kilda, New Zealand to the Mediterranean.

Back to our introduction on tall ships and the non racing voyages you can take part in







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