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.
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.
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; for example, in The Mirror of the Sea in 1903. If Conrad used the term, it is fairly certain "tall ship" was common parlance among his fellow mariners in the last quarter of the 19th century.
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.
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 Script error: No such module "convert". waterline length and on which at least half the people on board are aged 15 to 25, this definition can include many modern sailing yachts, so for the purposes of this article, tall ship will mainly refer to those vessels rated as class "A".
Sail Training International
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 of course, 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). Basically 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. The STI definitions can be found here and a ship database here.
All square-rigged vessels (barque, barquentine, brig, brigantine or ship rigged) and all other vessel 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 Script error: No such module "convert". 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".
|Name||Last Nationality|| Original
|Alexander von Humboldt||23x15px Germany||1906||3||Barque||Sold 2011/ relocated to Caribbean, 2013 returned to Germany; currently docked|
|Bounty||23x15px United States||1960||3||Full rigged ship||Sunk 2012|
|Concordia||23x15px Canada||1992||3||Barquentine||Sunk 2010|
|Dunay||23x15px USSR||1928||3||Full rigged ship||Burned 1963|
|Prince William (see PNS Rah Naward)||23x15px United Kingdom||2001||2||Brig||Sold (2010); now a sail training ship of the Pakistan Navy|
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.
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.
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' (36.6m) length overall (LOA). Fore and aft rigged vessels of 160' (48.8m) (LOA) and over". By LOA they meant length excluding bowsprit and aft spar.
Class "B" was "all fore and aft rigged vessels between 100 to 160 feet in length, and all square rigged vessels under 120' (36.6m) (LOA)".
See also a list of class "A" ships with lengths including bowsprit.
Lost tall ships
Tall ships are sometimes lost, such as by a storm at sea. Some examples of this include:
- Bounty full-rig ship lost off the North Carolina coast as Hurricane Sandy approached in 2012.
- Concordia was a triple mast Barquentine built in 1992, operated by Canada as a school ship. Lost at sea in 2010 in a squall.
- Asgard II, an Irish national sail training ship, commissioned in 1982, was lost in 2008 off the French coast. The 2-masted brigantine is thought to have collided with a submerged object.
- Fantome a former yacht built in 1927, then operating as a cruise ship was lost in Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
- Marques, built in 1917, it was lost in a 1984 Tall Ships Race.
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The USCGC Eagle in 1998 (US Coast Guard).
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The N.R.P. Sagres (Portuguese Navy).
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ARA Libertad (Argentine Navy)
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Greif in drydock
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Tall ship Kruzenshtern
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- 'Europa' in Belfast Lough - Tall Ships Belfast 2009 - geograph.org.uk - 1446281.jpg
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- 'Sagres' in Belfast Lough - Tall Ships Belfast 2009 - geograph.org.uk - 1446241.jpg
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The defining feature of square rigged tall ships – going aloft to set and stow sails.
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
The masts and yards of a brig, a typical tall ship.
Cisne Branco. Class A Tall Ship, Brazil.
Waiting for the wind at the start of the Bergen to Den Helder Tall Ships Race 2008.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tall ships.|
- American Sail Training Association
- Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race
- Jubilee Sailing Trust
- List of large sailing vessels
- List of tall ships
- Operation Sail
- Sail training
- Tall Ships Challenge
- Tall Ship Chronicles
- Tall Ships Youth Trust
- The Tall Ships' Races
- American Sail Training Association; Sail Tall Ships! (American Sail Training Association; 16th edition, 2005 ISBN 0-9636483-9-X)
- Thad Koza; Tall Ships: A Fleet for the 21st Century (Tide-Mark Press; 3rd edition, 2002; ISBN 1-55949-739-4)