The Cutty Sark Tall Ship Races
At the end of each of the Cutty Sark Races, a major prize was awarded – the Cutty Sark Trophy for International Understanding – to the Master of the vessel which, in the opinion of all Masters of the race fleet, had done the most to promote better international understanding during the race.
The trophy was a valuable silver replica of the clipper Cutty Sark, and each member of the winning crew also received a commemorative medallion. The first holder of this magnificent award was the Russian barque Kruzenshtern which received an overwhelming vote in 1974 after taking part in the race from Copenhagen to Gdynia. It was the first year that the USSR had competed in
In 1976, the Belgian 61 ton ketch Zenobe Gramme was awarded the trophy during the race from Tenerife to Bermuda when the skipper of the vessel went to the aid of two smaller vessels which had been drifting on windless seas and were in danger of running out of food and water. Captain Lt. George Saille of the Zenobe gave up any chance of winning the race and towed the two laggers more than 800 miles to port.
Another recipient of the trophy was the Polish fully-rigged ship Dar Pomorza. Built in 1909 in Hamburg as the Prinzess Eitel Friedrich, she entered every Tall Ships race from 1972, when she won the Cowes to Skagen leg, to 1981, when she was laid up as a museum ship after 72 years of service.
Her replacement is the Dar Mlodziezy, built between 1981-82 at the Gdansk Shipyard and owned by the Polish Merchant Navy Academy. Shortly after her launch she was able to visit the port of Southampton, in England, for a grand Parade of Sail which took place in the Solent.
A magnificent replacement for her predecessor, the Dar Mlodziezy is considerably larger at nearly 3,000 tons. She carries a crew of 38 plus about 140 cadets and measures 357.5 ft overall. Her rig is that of a fully-rigged ship and is easily recognized by her somewhat unusual flat transom. A number of labor-saving devices were installed on board; modern winches hoist the sails and brace the yards; and her yards are fixed on modern lightweight, pole masts, obviating the need for their raising and lowering when sail is set or taken in.
The Russian three master Druzhba was built in 1987 and is the same size as the Dar Mlodziezy. She is based in Odessa, but like all of the big Russian ships, will compete in the annual events wherever they may take place. South and Pan American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela and Mexico were also keen supporters of the annual Cutty Sark events. In 1979, the Venezuelan government launched the Simon Bolivar, the first of a generation of new windjammers. She is a barque measuring 270 ft overall, and was built at Bilbao in Spain, her distinctive grey and black paintwork give her a fine appearance despite her flat transom.
The same yard of Astilleros y Talleres Celaya, Bilbao, built the Mexican Navy’s Cuauhtemoc a little longer and with the more traditional counter stern. She carries nearly 25,000 sq ft of sail and is manned by a crew of 275 officers and sailors. She carries the name of an early Aztec emperor who was taken prisoner and executed in 1525 under the orders of the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.
One of the most unusual square riggers to have taken part in these races was the British barque Lord Nelson which was launched in 1983 for the Jubilee Sailing Trust. This vessel measures 163 ft and was designed by the eminent naval architect Colin Mudie especially to cater for the needs of the handicapped. Wide and uncluttered decks allow room for manouevering wheelchairs, and special lifts and hoists are installed to allow the handicapped to take an active part in the running of the ship.