This is going to be another historical year for the Gloucester Schooner Festival.
It's the 100th anniversary of International Fishermen’s Race, and the 36th year of the festival.
Daisy Nell Collinson, chair of the Gloucester Schooner Festival, said the Bluenose II will be returning to Gloucester, as well as Columbia.
"Both of these replica schooners keep this history alive by employing the same rig and design of their original vessels from the 1920s. For Gloucester and all of Cape Ann this says that the schooner design is a viable sailing rig and is here to stay," she said. "The Thomas E. Lannon, Ardelle, and Fame are all living examples that sail our waters with passengers every summer."
She further noted that the schooner Adventure, built in 1926, the “highliner” of the Gloucester fishing fleet in her heyday and now the city's flagship and a National Historic Landmark, has been used as a windjammer and educational sailing school since her fishing career ended in 1953.
Another favorite schooner returning for the 2020 Gloucester Schooner Festival will be Gen. George Patton’s former schooner When & If.
The festival is a program of Maritime Gloucester, where the Esperanto and Columbia trophies are on display.
Michael De Koster, executive director of Maritime Gloucester, noted that there is a wall exhibit titled "Rounding the Buoy" about the history of the race, the pursuit of speed and the international rivalry. Maritime Gloucester is open weekends in the winter.
In 1920, the first International Fishermen’s Race was held off Halifax, Nova Scotia, between the Canadian schooner Delawana and the U.S. flag schooner Esperanto.
"The races were held in October of 1920 and the Gorton-owned Esperanto took the series two straight! The third race was never required!," according to the schooner festival website.
The Esperanto Cup is now the coveted prize of the Schooner Festival's Mayor’s Race, and serves as a symbol of "the rekindling of the schooner races of the 1920s and the fishing fleet that the races represent."
Inscribed in the trophy are the initial dates of the race, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 1920.
According to the records, the trophy was awarded to Esperanto’s skipper, Capt. Marty Welch of Gloucester. After his death, the trophy was purchased by Gorton’s to be maintained as part of the company’s history. It is currently on loan from Gorton’s and is on display at Maritime Gloucester.
The top name inscribed on the trophy — Colonial Fisheries Limited — is a reminder of the origins of these races.
Collinson said the all-volunteer planning committee of the Gloucester Schooner Festival already has begun fundraising and planning for this exciting 2020 season.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.