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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

The oldest video footage of Tall Ship sailing in square riggers

by Magnus Smith 23 Jun 11:00 UTC
Lord Nelson sails into London © Jubilee Sailing Trust

With the Tall Ship races starting this Friday (27th June 2024) in Lithuania, let us delve into the past, and round-up the best videos which show this type of classic square rigger, still used for racing and training hundreds of years on from their design first appearing.

The oldest video is from 1928/29 and shows a four-masted barque 'Peking' rounding Cape Horn. The sailor who originally took the footage then added a narration in 1980, so we get the benefit of both on Youtube now! This is a fascinating half hour of entertainment, so much better than the silent movies of this era which leave us guessing.

Then we move to 1933 with the Full-rigged ship 'Sørlandet' sailing from Norway to Chicago. Sadly this is silent, but it has lots of on-board footage showing what the lower ranks had to do all day on a commercial ship. Yes, even swabbing the decks is included!

Also in the thirties is the square rigger 'Viking' on passage from Mariehamn to Sharpness in 1937. This video is nearly an hour long, and starts with still images before the video footage is shown. At 17m25s the narrator changes as the footage is now from a variety of different ships, with general information only. Then at 33m18s we switch to footage from the 'Passat' in 1938, going from Hull to Mariehamn. The camera takes to the rigging to show sailors at work! Sadly the video freezes at 44m29s so there is nothing more to watch after that.

Finally, we can show you a race from the decade in which organising racing began properly: the fifties. Only a two minutes newsflash though! The footage shows Torbay Race (to Lisbon) for Tall Ships 1956. There is a mix of square riggers and more modern designs. Some small dinghies try to join in the action, and it is interesting to see how well (i.e. badly) they float when capsized! No buoyancy tanks/bags were deemed necessary...

What of the rest?

Do you know the location of any more videos showing tall ships in the early years of cine cameras, or in the 1970s-80s? We would love to share these with other sailors. You can submit video links to us for immediate review.

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