Tall ship

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Group of "tall ships" at Hanse Sail 2010 Hanse sail 2010 warnemuende einlaufen.jpg
Group of "tall ships" at Hanse Sail 2010

A tall ship is a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. "Tall ship" can also be defined more specifically by an organization, such as for a race or festival.



The tall ship Kruzenshtern Kruzenshterns for.jpg
The tall ship Kruzenshtern
More than 36 tall ships participated in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in Portsmouth, part of the fleet of 167 naval, merchant and tall ships from 36 countries Portsmouthsunset.jpg
More than 36 tall ships participated in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in Portsmouth, part of the fleet of 167 naval, merchant and tall ships from 36 countries

Traditional rigging may include square rigs and gaff rigs, usually with separate topmasts and topsails. It is generally more complex than modern rigging, which utilizes newer materials such as aluminum and steel to construct taller, lightweight masts with fewer, more versatile sails. Most smaller, modern vessels use the Bermuda rig. Though it did not become popular elsewhere until the twentieth century, this rig was developed in Bermuda in the seventeenth century, and had historically been used on its small ships, the Bermuda sloops.[ citation needed ]

Author and master mariner Joseph Conrad (who spent 1874 to 1894 at sea in tall ships and was quite particular about naval terminology) used the term "tall ship" in his works; [1] for example, in The Mirror of the Sea in 1906. [2]

Henry David Thoreau also references the term "tall ship" in his first work, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers , quoting "Down out at its mouth, the dark inky main blending with the blue above. Plum Island, its sand ridges scolloping along the horizon like the sea-serpent, and the distant outline broken by many a tall ship, leaning, still, against the sky." He does not cite this quotation, but the work was written in 1849. [3]

While Sail Training International (STI) has extended the definition of tall ship for the purpose of its races to embrace any sailing vessel with more than 30 ft (9.14 m) waterline length and on which at least half the people on board are aged 15 to 25. [4]

Sail Training International

The masts and yards of a brig RigFromAbove.jpg
The masts and yards of a brig
Crew aloft, tending sails GoingAloft.jpg
Crew aloft, tending sails

In the 21st century, "tall ship" is often used generically for large, classic, sailing vessels, but is also a technically defined term by Sail Training International for its purposes and STI helped popularize the term. The exact definitions have changed somewhat over time, and are subject to various technicalities, but by 2011 there were 4 classes (A, B, C, and D). There are only two size classes, A is over 40 m LOA, and B/C/D are 9.14 m to under 40 m LOA. The definitions have to do with rigging: class A is for square sail rigged ships, class B is for "traditionally rigged" ships, class C is for "modern rigged" vessels with no "spinnaker-like sails", and class D is the same as class C but carrying a spinnaker-like sail. [4]

Class A

Russian Sedov at the Kantasatama Harbour in Kotka, Finland, during the Tall Ships' Races 2017 Sedov in TSR at Kotka July 2017 2.jpg
Russian Sedov at the Kantasatama Harbour in Kotka, Finland, during the Tall Ships’ Races 2017

All square-rigged vessels (barque, barquentine, brig, brigantine or ship rigged) and all other vessels more than 40 metres length overall (LOA), regardless of rig. STI classifies its A Class as "all square-rigged vessels and all other vessels over 40 metres (131 ft) length overall (LOA)", in this case STI LOA excludes bowsprit and aft spar. STI defines LOA as "Length overall measured from the fore side of stem post to aft side of stern post, counter or transom". [5]

Class A Tall Ships
Current nationalityOriginal
MastRigLength excluding
bowsprit [m]
Beam [m]
Alexander von Humboldt II Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 20113 Barque 6010.8
Alpha Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 19482 Barquentine 8.9
Amerigo Vespucci Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19313 Full-rigged ship 82.415.8
Belem Flag of France.svg  France 18963 Barque 518.8
Bima Suci Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 20173 Barque 111.2013.65
Capitain Miranda Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 19303 Staysail Schooner 50.37.9
Christian Radich Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 19373 Full-rigged ship 62.59.7
Cisne Branco Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 19993 Full-rigged ship 60.510.7
Constitution Flag of the United States.svg  United States 17973 Full-rigged ship 6213.26
CreoleFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 19273 Schooner 42.78.9
Creoula Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 19374 Schooner 62.29.9
Cuauhtemoc Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 19823 Barque 67.212.0
Danmark Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 19323 Full-rigged ship 59.810.1
Dar Młodzieży Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 19823 Full-rigged ship 94.814.0
Dewaruci Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 19533 Barquentine 49.79.4
DruzhbaFlag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine 19873 Full-rigged ship 94.214
Eagle Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19363 Barque 80.711.9
Eendracht Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 19893 Gaff Schooner 55.312.2
Elissa Flag of the United States.svg  United States 18773 Barque 45.48.5
Esmeralda Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 19534 Barquentine 94.1313.1
Eugene EugenidesFlag of Greece.svg  Greece 19593 Topgallant Schooner 9.2
Europa Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 19113 Barque 44.57.3
Gazela Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19013 Barquentine 42.77.9
Georg Stage (II)Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 19353 Full-rigged ship 428.5
Gloria Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 19683 Barque 6710.7
Golden QuestFlag of Tuvalu.svg  Tuvalu 19453 Barque 487.5
Gorch Fock (I) Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19333 Barque 73.711.9
Gorch Fock (II) Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19583 Barque 81.211.9
Greif Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19502 Brigantine 7.4
Großherzogin Elizabeth Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19083 Gaff Schooner 538.2
Guayas Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 19773 Barque 56.1010.4
Iskra (II)Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 19823 Barquentine 407.9
Italia Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19932 Brigantine 53.79.16
Jadran Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 19333 Topsail Schooner 8.9
James Craig Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 18743 Barque 54.89.5
JessicaFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 19833 Topsail Schooner 6.7
Juan Sebastián Elcano Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 19274 Topsail Schooner 94.1313.1
Juan Bautista Cambiaso Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic 20093 Barquentine 54.608.5
Kaiwo Maru II Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 19894 Barque 89.013.8
Kaliakra Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 19843 Barquentine 43.27.9
Khersones Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine 19893 Full-rigged ship 94.814.0
Kruzenshtern Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 19264 Barque 9514.0
Leeuwin II Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 19863 Barquentine 41.29.0
Libertad Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 19603 Full-rigged ship 91.713.7
La Grace Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic 20102 Brig 32.86.06
Lord NelsonFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 19853 Barque 40.28.5
Mercator Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 19323 Barquentine 6811.9
MeridianFlag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 19483 Barquentine 8.9
Mir Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 19873 Full-rigged ship 94.814.0
Mircea Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 19383 Barque 73.712.5
Morgenster Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 19192 Brig 38.06.0
U.S. Brig Niagara Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19882 Brig 37.59.8
Nippon Maru Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 19844 Barque 89.013.8
Oosterschelde Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 19183 Topsail Schooner 40.127.5
Palinuro Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19343 Barquentine 58.710.1
Pallada Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 19893 Full-rigged ship 94.214.0
Peacemaker Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19893 Barquentine 3810.4
Picton Castle Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 19283 Barque 45.27.3
Pogoria Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 19803 Barquentine 40.97.9
Rah Naward Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 20012 Brig 40.69.9
Roald Amundsen Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19522 Brig 40.87.2
Royal Albatross Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 20014 Barquentine 47.07.6
Royal Clipper Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 20005 Full-rigged ship 134.816.5
Sagres Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 19373 Barque 81.311.9
Santa Maria Manuela Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 19374 Schooner 62.49.9
Sedov Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 19214 Barque 108.714.6
Shabab Oman Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 19713 Barquentine 43.98.5
Simón Bolívar Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 19793 Barque 70.010.4
Sørlandet Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 19273 Full-rigged ship 56.79.6
Spirit of New Zealand Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 19863 Barquentine 33.29.0
Stad Amsterdam Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 20003 Full-rigged ship 62.410.5
Statsraad Lehmkuhl Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 19143 Barque 84.612.6
Star of India Flag of the United States.svg  United States 18633 Barque 62.510.7
Stavros S Niarchos Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 20002 Brig 40.69.9
Sudarshini Flag of India.svg  India 20113 Barque 54.08.5
Surprise (ex Rose) Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19703 Full-rigged ship 54.69.8
Tarangini Flag of India.svg  India 19973 Barque 54.08.5
Thor HeyerdahlFlag of Germany.svg  Germany 19303 Topsail Schooner 42.56.5
UnicornFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 19482 Brig 7.3
Unión Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 20144 Barque 99.013.5
Varuna Flag of India.svg  India 19813 Barque 54.08.5
Young AmericaFlag of the United States.svg  United States 19752 Brigantine 7.2
Young Endeavour Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 19862 Brigantine 357.8
NameLast nationalityOriginal
Alexander von Humboldt Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 19063 Barque Sold 2011/ relocated to Caribbean, 2013 returned to Germany; currently docked
Bounty Flag of the United States.svg  United States 19603 Full-rigged ship Sank 2012
Concordia Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 19923 Barquentine Sank 2010
DunayFlag of the Soviet Union.svg  Soviet Union 19283 Full-rigged ship Burned 1963
Prince WilliamFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 20012 Brig Sold (2010); now a sail training ship of the Pakistan Navy with the name Rah Naward
Sagres Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 18963 Barque Replaced by the third Sagres in 1961. Sold (1983); now permanently moored in Hamburg, Germany with the name Rickmer Rickmers
Sarmiento Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 18973 Full-rigged ship Museum ship, moored in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Uruguay Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 18743 Barque Museum ship, moored in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Class B

Traditionally rigged vessels (i.e. gaff rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres, one good example is Spirit of Bermuda .

Class C

Modern rigged vessels (i.e. Bermudan rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres not carrying spinnaker-like sails.

Class C Tall Ships
Current nationalityOriginal
MastRigLength excluding
bowsprit [m]
Beam [m]
Caroly Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19482 yawl 23.664.8
Capricia Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19632 yawl 22.565.03
Stella Polare Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19652 yawl 21.474.89
Corsaro II Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 19612 yawl 20.94.7

Class D

Modern rigged vessels (i.e. Bermudan-rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners) with an LOA of less than 40 metres and with a waterline length (LWL) of at least 9.14 metres carrying spinnaker-like sails. There are also a variety of other rules and regulations for the crew, such as ages, and also for a rating rule. There are other sail festivals and races with their own standards, the STI is just one set of standards for their purposes.

Earlier description of classes

An older definition of class "A" by the STI was "all square-rigged vessels over 120′ (36.6 m) length overall (LOA). Fore and aft rigged vessels of 160′ (48.8 m) (LOA) and over". By LOA they meant length excluding bowsprit and aft spar. [6]

Class "B" was "all fore and aft rigged vessels between 100 and 160 feet in length, and all square rigged vessels under 120′ (36.6 m) (LOA)".

See also a list of class "A" ships with lengths including bowsprit. [7]

Lost tall ships

Tall ships are sometimes lost, such as by a storm at sea. Some examples of lost tall ships include:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Schooner</span> Sailing vessel

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: fore-and-aft rigged on all of two or more masts and, in the case of a two-masted schooner, the foremast generally being shorter than the mainmast. A common variant, the topsail schooner also has a square topsail on the foremast, to which may be added a topgallant. Differing definitions leave uncertain whether the addition of a fore course would make such a vessel a brigantine. Many schooners are gaff-rigged, but other examples include Bermuda rig and the staysail schooner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sailboat</span> Boat propelled partly or entirely by sails

A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails and is smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rig (sailing)</span> Description of the specific ways that a sailing craft is rigged

A sailing vessel's rig is its arrangement of masts, sails and rigging. Examples include a schooner rig, cutter rig, junk rig, etc. A rig may be broadly categorized as "fore-and-aft", "square", or a combination of both. Within the fore-and-aft category there is a variety of triangular and quadrilateral sail shapes. Spars or battens may be used to help shape a given kind of sail. Each rig may be described with a sail plan—formally, a drawing of a vessel, viewed from the side.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yawl</span> Type of boat

A yawl is a type of boat. The term has several meanings. It can apply to the rig, to the hull type or to the use which the vessel is put.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brigantine</span> Two-masted sailing vessel

A brigantine is a two-masted sailing vessel with a fully square-rigged foremast and at least two sails on the main mast: a square topsail and a gaff sail mainsail. The main mast is the second and taller of the two masts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brig</span> Sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts

A brig is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: two masts which are both square-rigged. Brigs originated in the second half of the 18th century and were a common type of smaller merchant vessel or warship from then until the latter part of the 19th century. In commercial use, they were gradually replaced by fore-and-aft rigged vessels such as schooners, as owners sought to reduce crew costs by having rigs that could be handled by fewer men. In Royal Navy use, brigs were retained for training use when the battle fleets consisted almost entirely of iron-hulled steamships.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bermuda sloop</span> 17th century sailing vessel

The Bermuda sloop is a historical type of fore-and-aft rigged single-masted sailing vessel developed on the islands of Bermuda in the 17th century. Such vessels originally had gaff rigs with quadrilateral sails, but evolved to use the Bermuda rig with triangular sails. Although the Bermuda sloop is often described as a development of the narrower-beamed Jamaica sloop, which dates from the 1670s, the high, raked masts and triangular sails of the Bermuda rig are rooted in a tradition of Bermudian boat design dating from the earliest decades of the 17th century. It is distinguished from other vessels with the triangular Bermuda rig, which may have multiple masts or may not have evolved in hull form from the traditional designs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scow</span> Type of flat-bottomed barge

A scow is a smaller type of barge. Some scows are rigged as sailing scows. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, scows carried cargo in coastal waters and inland waterways, having an advantage for navigating shallow water or small harbours. Scows were in common use in the American Great Lakes and other parts of the U.S., Canada, southern England, and New Zealand. In modern times their main purpose is for recreation and racing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cutter (boat)</span> Type of boat

A cutter is a name for various types of watercraft. It can apply to the rig of a sailing vessel, to a governmental enforcement agency vessel, to a type of ship's boat which can be used under sail or oars, or, historically, to a type of fast-sailing vessel introduced in the 18th century, some of which were used as small warships.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barquentine</span> Sailing rig

A barquentine or schooner barque is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gaff rig</span> Sailing rig configuration

Gaff rig is a sailing rig in which the sail is four-cornered, fore-and-aft rigged, controlled at its peak and, usually, its entire head by a spar (pole) called the gaff. Because of the size and shape of the sail, a gaff rig will have running backstays rather than permanent backstays.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bermuda rig</span> Configuration of mast and rigging for a type of sailboat

A Bermuda rig, Bermudian rig, or Marconi rig is a configuration of mast and rigging for a type of sailboat and is the typical configuration for most modern sailboats. This configuration was developed in Bermuda in the 1600s; the term Marconi, a reference to the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, became associated with this configuration in the early 1900s because the wires that stabilize the mast of a Bermuda rig reminded observers of the wires on early radio masts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fore-and-aft rig</span> Sailing rig consisting mainly of sails

A fore-and-aft rig is a sailing vessel rigged mainly with sails set along the line of the keel, rather than perpendicular to it as on a square rigged vessel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sail training</span>

From its modern interpretations to its antecedents when maritime nations would send young naval officer candidates to sea, sail training provides an unconventional and effective way of building many useful skills on and off the water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Length overall</span> Maximum length of a vessels hull measured parallel to the waterline

Length overall is the maximum length of a vessel's hull measured parallel to the waterline. This length is important while docking the ship. It is the most commonly used way of expressing the size of a ship, and is also used for calculating the cost of a marina berth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pinisi</span> Type of rigging of Indonesian sailing vessels

Literally, the word pinisi refers to a type of rigging of Indonesian sailing vessels. A pinisi carries seven to eight sails on two masts, arranged like a gaff-ketch with what is called 'standing gaffs' — i.e., unlike most Western ships using such a rig, the two main sails are not opened by raising the spars they are attached to, but the sails are 'pulled out' like curtains along the gaffs which are fixed at around the centre of the masts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tall Ships Races</span> Sail training ship races

The Tall Ships Races are races for sail training "tall ships". The races are designed to encourage international friendship and training for young people in the art of sailing. The races are held annually in European waters and consists of two racing legs of several hundred nautical miles, and a "cruise in company" between the legs. Over one half of the crew of each ship participating in the races must consist of young people.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sailing:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sail plan</span> Technical drawing of a sailing craft

A sail plan is a drawing of a sailing craft, viewed from the side, depicting its sails, the spars that carry them and some of the rigging that supports the rig. By extension, "sail plan" describes the arrangement of sails on a craft. A sailing craft may be waterborne, an iceboat, or a sail-powered land vehicle.


  1. Conrad, Joseph (2019-11-20). Selected works of Joseph Conrad. Strelbytskyy Multimedia Publishing.
  2. Conrad, Joseph (1906). The Mirror of the Sea. Harper & Brothers. p. 56. ISBN   9781774415207.
  3. Thoreau, Henry David. "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers". www.gutenberg.org. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Definition of a tall ship". Sail On Board. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  5. STI Measurement form. Archived 2013-01-31 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "National Institute for Sea Training (NIST)". kohkun.go.jp. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  7. "National Institute for Sea Training (NIST)". kohkun.go.jp. Archived from the original on 20 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  8. Corzo, Cynthia; Morgan, Curtis; Herald, John Barry (8 November 1998). "The loss of the Windjammer Schooner, Fantome". Miami Herald . Archived from the original on 26 October 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2018 via FortOgden.
  9. "Lennie - 1889". Marine Heritage Database. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2017-10-25.
  10. Lennie (+1889) Wrecksite

Further reading