Bluenose Elimination Race
In 1920, the American’s Cup Race between the defending American yacht Resolute and the British challenger Shamrock IV was deferred because of a 23 knot breeze. The news traveled quickly throughout New England and the Maritimes. Fishermen coming home from the Banks and sailors along the eastern seaboard openly argued that such a faint little breeze would scarcely “raise an eyebrow” among real sailors, especially those who sailed in Gloucester fishing vessels and in Nova Scotia schooners from the South Shore. The owners of The Halifax Herald and The Evening Mail, led by publisher William H. Dennis, issued formal challenge for an annual North American International Fisherman’s Race. Only experienced deep-sea fishing schooners and fishermen could compete. Each race would cover a 35 to 40 mile course which had to be completed in 9 hours. A $5000 purse was involved, with the winning schooner receiving a luxurious silver trophy. It would be “a race for real sailors”. With the ink barely dry on the championship challenge, the feisty New England schooner Esperanto arrived in Halifax, trounced the Lunenburg saltbanker Delawana, and sailed triumphantly back to Gloucester with the prize. Nova Scotians declared that a new schooner was needed, one that was large enough to carry a good-sized cargo and yet sturdy enough to be driven hard on the merciless Atlantic. She must be safe for her crew and sleek and fast enough to get the fish home to market quickly. And one more thing – she must also be able to effectively challenge any schooner in the Gloucester fleet and bring the trophy home. A young Halifax marine architect, William J. Roue, was chosen to design the ship. His design came to life in the shipyard of Smith and Rhuland in Lunenburg. On March 26 1921 the Bluenose was launched. This piece is titled “Bluenose Elimination Race, 1921”, and depicts the bluenose racing in Halifax Harbour. The two other vessels present are, the Canadia # 6 and the Alcala # 7. The number on the sails of the Bluenose is the # 2, this was the only time that this number was displayed on her sails. It was in this race that she had to prove herself capable to represent the country in The North American International Fisherman’s race. There was no contest. She won the race, and for the rest of her undefeated racing career her sails proudly displayed the # 1.