ROCKLAND — The idyllic scenes in and around the historic Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse on Friday, July 8 might have come straight from Norman Rockwell paintings and, for all intents and purposes, were Americana at its best, with a sweet and salty maritime twist.

Schooner Mary Day emerges from behind the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Photo by Ken Waltz

After showcasing their majestic vessels to hundreds of spectators on shore, the breakwater and aboard other boats, a handful of Maine’s majestic, fabled and venerable Windjammers sailed to deeper waters to celebrate a special birthday doing what they do best — namely, fill their sails and create maritime memories.

That was the scenario before, during and after the 45th Greater Schooner Race in Penobscot Bay.

Schooner Victory Chimes under sail. Photo by Ken Waltz

The Maine Windjammer Association’s fleet of nine schooners, plus two visiting schooners, filled Penobscot Bay as the Great Schooner Race set a five- to 15-mile sailing course for the traditional-rig vessels. The 11 schooners — many of which are National Historic Landmarks and range in size from 57 to 135 feet — raced each other for the annual Cutty Sark trophy awarded to the fastest vessel around the course on corrected time (based on rating).

The spectacle of vessels as old as 150 years appeared to onlookers as a 19th-century gathering of former cargo-carrying schooners, said Nicole Jacques of the MWA.

Schooner Lewis R. French near the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Photo by Ken Waltz

Indeed it did.

The Windjammers raced with their crews and guests, while hundreds of on-lookers watched from the breakwater.

In the end, the Schooner Stephen Taber was the champion and winner of the Cutty Sark trophy as the fastest vessel.

Schooner Heritage under sail. Photo by Ken Waltz

The other top finishers were:

Flying Jib Class — 1, Schooner Olad.

Coaster Class — 1, Schooner Stephen Taber; 2, Schooner Lewis R. French; and 3, Schooner Victory Chimes.

Leeward Class — 1, Schooner J. & E. Riggin; 2, Windjammer Angelique; and 3, Schooner Ladona

Windward Class — 1, Schooner Mary Day; and 2, Schooner American Eagle.

Schooner Ladona under sail. Photo by Ken Waltz

Collectively, the boats are known as America’s largest Windjammer fleet.

The vessels sailed past the Rockland Breakwater on Thursday before things began in earnest ofnFriday, with a captains’ meeting aboard Victory Chimes early in the morning and the start of the race at 11 a.m. Between 2 and 3 p.m. vessels crossed the finish line and returned to Rockland Harbor. An awards ceremony was held at the conclusion of the event.

The Maine Windjammer Association (MWA) is a 45-year-old organization committed to creating unique, memorable vacations aboard traditional-rig ships on Maine waters, the organization stated. With nine vessels, MWA offers three- to six-day sailing adventures for guests throughout the summer and early fall. Most of the windjammers are National Historic Landmarks, and all of the vessels are individually-owned and -operated. The Maine Windjammer Association is the largest fleet of working windjammers in America.

For more information, visit

Editor’s note: These photos and video were made possible due to the generosity of captain Ben Smith of the Quicksilver, and Smith’s trusty helper Dylan Frank. The Quicksilver, a water taxi and charter boat serving Islesboro and Penobscot Bay, was a chase vessel at the event and Smith graciously helped this reporter get into the middle of the action and the results are the photos and video in this story.