The Tall Ships Challenge alternates between the Great Lakes and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America in a three-year cycle. This year’s race kicks off in Savannah, the first time in 15 years the coastal Georgia city has hosted the festival, then continues on to Greenport, N.Y., Newport, R.I., and finishes in Halifax and the Nova Scotia Outports.
The Savannah Morning News reports that the ships are set to arrive Thursday to kick off the challenge with a weekend festival of tours, entertainment and history. The festivities will wrap up May 7 with the Parade of Sail as the ships leave to start an ocean race that will end in Nova Scotia in July. The annual event is sponsored by Tall Ships America, a nonprofit that focuses on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of North America’s maritime heritage.
Many of the ships that participate serve as laboratories and classrooms at sea, manned by crews of young people ages 13 to 25 who are enrolled in sailing programs with Tall Ships America.
Festivals at each port give visitors the opportunity to learn about North America’s maritime history, go aboard for a tour, interact with the crews of different vessels, and even take a short excursion cruise.
Visit Savannah President Joe Marinelli and the Tall Ships Festival committee anticipate as many as 75,000 visitors for the three-day event.