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Tall Ship Racing - Participate as tall ship crew

"There is something about joining the Tall Ships Fleet that defies cynicism. Sailing these great vessels is not just a sport, and not just sentimentality. It fuses the old skills of laborious teamwork and communal courage with a new pattern of adventure and internationalism. Even the most timid and unfit deck workers find themselves rising to the task, inspired by the natural beauty of the sea and the human beauty of the great ships, and the people who sail them." Libby Purves

International Tall Ships Races are organised in different locations each year. Typically there will be one, or occasionally two, tall ships race events held in Europe each summer.  

Most legs will have opportunities for tall ship crew of all ages to take part. Classic Sailing has a number of tall ships and smaller sailing ships that offer individual berths on races each year. In addition to able bodied berths, Lord Nelson and Tenacious are designed to take disabled crew and one or both ships take part in tall ships races every year. 

Full training will be given so a complete newcomer to sailing can take part. These voyages are fairly 'full on' sailing so you need to be confident about your fitness and stamina. They also fill up fast so ring us soon.

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Where Can I Race on Tall Ships This Year?

You do not need any sailing experience to sign on as tall ship race crew. You do need to be reasonably fit and healthy and prepared for physical exercise to set sails, stand watches day and night whilst racing, and take part in teamwork to sail any size sailing ship from our smallest vessel in the race 'Maybe' (which won a tall ships race last year) up to square riggers like Lord Nelson and Europa. It is not compulsory to go aloft or out on the bowsprit but it is definitely part of the buzz.

Liberty Tall Ships Regatta 2019 - (13th June to 23rd June 2019) - Rouen - The Hague 

Summer Tall Ships Race 2019 - (3rd July and 4th August 2019) - Aalborg - Fredrikstad - Bergen - Aarhus.

Black Sea Tall Ship Regatta 2019 - (21st Sept to 9th Oct 2019) - Varna, Bulgaria - Sochi -Novorssiysk, Russia

Liberty Tall Ships Regatta 2019

Bark Europa and Morgenster are the only two ships we currently have taking part in this early season event.

Race Voyages at l'Armada Rouen


Bark Europa Climbing the futtock shrouds is the hard bit
Bark Europa - Climbing the futtock shrouds is the hard bit

Summer Tall Ships Race 2019

3-6th July 2019 Aalborg Tall Ships Festival

6-11th July 2019 - Tall Ships Race leg 1

11-14th July 2019 - Tall Ships Festival in Fredrikstad (near Oslo)

14-21st July 2019 - Tall Ships Cruise in Company (spectaular Western Fjords)

21-24th July 2019 - Tall Ships Festival in Bergen

24th July - 1st August 2019 - Tall Ships Race 2

1st - 4th Aug 2019 - Tall Ships Festival in Aarhus, Denmark.

Classic Sailing have six ships competing in various parts of this event. You can sail as race crew or cruise in company on:

Barque Europa, Barque Lord Nelson,Topsail Schooner Oosterschelde, Schooner Blue Clipper, Gaff Ketch Maybe, Brig Morgenster.

See their Race and cruise in company voyages here. Unless they are block booked by a youth organisation, they usually all have at least 50% of crew places for under 26 year olds and up to 50% potential berths for adults over 26 years.

You do need to enter into the spirit of these races which are very hands on in terms of sailing and sails get set at a much faster paces than normal. There are still plenty of periods of quiet contemplation, wild partying and getting to know sailors from around the world. In port thousands of people line the waterfront to see you come in. There are days in port where the public come to see your ship .....and you can visit other big tall ships or smaller vessels. There are crew activities and sightseeing also organised by the host ports. Your ship may be involved in a spectacular parade of sail and as crew you are always in the best place to see the fireworks from on board or take photos of impressive tall ships sailing at sea.

Tall Ships Race Voyages 2019


Read More About Tall Ships Race Event 2019


bowsprit netting thrills


Where Can I be Tall Ships Race Crew in Future?

Summer Tall Ships Race 2020 - (2nd July to 9th August 2020) - Lisbon - Cadiz - A Coruna - Dunkirk

Read more about the race legs, cruise in company and how you can participate as crew in this tall ships race - both youth and adlt berths - no experience needed,

Tall Ships Race 2020 

climbing up to the t'gallant
climbing up to the t'gallant

What is it Like ?

Classic Sailing is fortunate to be able to offer a wide range of tall ship racing experiences for those who want hands on sailing as ships crew. Tall Ships Races are perhaps the most intense voyage we offer in terms of sail handling, standing watches through the night, and pushing mighty ships as hard as they would have sailed when carrying profitable cargoes or chasing an enemy or prize ship. 

Looking astern when dawn breaks to find you have overtaken a huge four masted Russian ship or a sleek schooner after a night of exhausting sail changes and work aloft, creates an elation shared by the whole ship. Its all about the team - your watch, and the ships company - whatever your age or physical strengths. Before you know it, even the most disorganised person finds themselves preparing their clothes and boots so you can leap into them in an instant for 'all hands on deck' call.

There are also periods of reflection, where a whole fleet may be ghosting long in light winds, when normally the Captain might reach for the 'iron topsail' (engine). Some tall ship race legs last 2-3 days, but some are more epic. In the past we have offered tall ships races around Cape Horn, Trans Atlantic and from Australia to New Zealand.

Tall Ship Racing as Crew

Selected as One of Earth's Most Thrilling Adventures by Libby Pruves

Book - Earths Most Thrilling Adventures

Earth's Most Thrilling Adventures is a 250 page book by Time Out Magazine. A hundred adrenaline filled experiences are described in each chapter. Yachting journalist Libby Purves explains why participating in a tall ships race is right up there with Rhino safaris on elephants !


Tall Ships Race - Why its So Thrilling - by Libby Purves


Brothers & Sisters of the Sea

The internationalism of the fleet is one of the joys; At the height of the Iraq War, young Omani Arabs were dancing in the streets at end of race festivals with American and British teenagers. At the height of the Cold War Russian ship Khruzhenstern was already a favourite of the fleet; After the Falklands, the first Argentinian ship in a British port was their tall ship Libertad.

Tall Ship voyages also involve a period in port before or after the race where the public are keen to come and see the fleet. The host ports put on a show for the public as well as events for tall ship crews.  These colourful gatherings are an opportunity to see waterfront harbours at their best and meet fellow sailors from all over the world.  If you are a purist sailor who wants to sail every day then you may prefer a tall ship voyage that is not part of a tall ship race event. Some voyages.

Tall Ships Race Start. Photo by
Tall Ships Race Start. Photo by


Who Can take Part in Tall Ship Races?

No experience is needed but a good level of general fitness is required. Classic Sailing are always actively seeking tall ships events suitable for all ages, however some Tall Ships Races may have quotas on crew aged over 25 as they are organised by sail training organisations and generally aimed at young people to promote international friendship. Tall Ship racing is a great way to meet new people of all nationalities, visit some wonderful ports and have an experience of a lifetime. Ring us for advice.

Going aloft on the square rigged vessels is a great buzz, but not for everyone. The opportuntity and the training to work aloft is there for everyone, but if you decide it is not your thing then there is plenty to get to grips with at deck level or out on the bowsprit.  Many sailing ships that take part do not have square sails anyway so there is no need to go aloft to set sails.

Rendezvous 2017 Yall Ships Event to Canada. Photo Valery Vasilesvskyi
Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Race to Canada. Sail Training International Valery Vasilevskyi

Dream for the Future ?

Keep up to date up with our e-newsletters (see footer at the bottom of this page) we will keep you posted with new sailing programmes and tall ship Race News as it happens. 

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