A Brief History Of Americas' Sail
By Rev. William F. Wendler

Like the oceans themselves, Americas' Sail wasn't born it evolved over time. It began in 1986 as the Four Sisters Project, which referred to the four "sister ships, "GLORIA, GUAYAS, CUAUHTEMOC, SIMON BOLIVAR; an idea conceived by Frank O. Braynard, one of the founders of Operation Sail. The idea was to initiate regularly scheduled international tall ship races in the Western Hemisphere. The magnificent Americas' Sail gold trophy was originally created for this project by prominent Long Island sculptor Anthony Fabbricante. Mr. Fabbricante and his wife, Dulcie, also began working on the organization of the race. They were soon joined by Rev. William F. Wendler, whose life long interest in ships and the sea resulted in his volunteering his services. These four founders quickly saw the need to expand the participation first to all ships in the Western Hemisphere and then to the international community as well and AMERICAS' SAIL was born. The unique plural possessive form symbolizes the fact that Americas' Sail belongs to all the nations of the Western Hemisphere. It is their opportunity to host the international maritime community at regularly scheduled events in their own waters. Americas' Sail belongs to everyone!

Americas' Sail was officially incorporated on September 10, 1992 in the old whaling community of Hudson, New York. A twenty member Board of Directors was formed, which included prominent members of the political and maritime community representing the United States, Canada, Colombia and The Netherlands. Currently, Americas' Sail has directors and regional representatives in many parts of the world. Its headquarters is located in the waterfront community of Glen Cove, New York.

The inaugural Americas' Sail event was held in 1995 and was a great success with twenty-three ships participating. Host ports were Norfolk, Virginia; Greenport, Oyster Bay and Sag Harbor, New York; and New Haven, Connecticut. The "Parade of Tall Ships," which Americas' Sail brought to New Haven, was a highlight of the 1995 Special Olympic Games. The Americas' Sail Trophy was presented to Venezuela's SIMON BOLIVAR and sailed with her on all her voyages.

The second Americas' Sail race took place in 1998, visiting Savannah, Georgia and Greenport and Glen Cove, New York. Twenty-one ships participated. The Americas' Sail class "A" gold trophy was won by Argentina's LIBERTAD. The class "B" silver trophy was won by the schooner GOOD FORTUNE from Edgartown, Massachusetts.

In 2002 the third quadrennial Americas' Sail race visited the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Class "A" ships raced from Curacao in the Dutch Antilles to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The class "A" gold trophy went to Brazils CISNE BRANCO. The class "B" silver trophy was won by MEKA II hailing from Beaufort, North Carolina. The new Tim Pierce Trophy for Maritime Excellence was awarded to the Island of Curacao in recognition of its seamanship history. The event concluded in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Americas' Sail '06 began with Brazil's first official tall ship event and a local ship regatta hosted by flagship CISNE BRANCO in Fortaleza. It continued on to the Dominican Republic where yacht races in Santo Domingo celebrated the beginning of the exploration of the Americas. Beaufort, North Carolina hosted the conclusion of the competition sponsored by Pepsi Cola. There, the "B" race was won by the Schooner Serenity hailing from Port Charles, Virginia. CISNE BRANCO remained the class "A" gold trophy holder.

Today, Americas' Sail is a non-profit organization consisting almost entirely of volunteers at every level. It pays no salaries, fees or commissions to it directors. Its mandate is to provide opportunities to celebrate the discipline of modern sail training in an atmosphere of friendly inter-cultural exchange. In addition, it seeks to bring these competitions to smaller towns and cities, which are more representative of life in the host countries than are the large urban centers so often selected for tall ship events.

From the very humble beginnings, as just an "idea" for a single event, Americas' Sail has grown and expanded to become a highly visible and respected member of the tall ship community world wide. It is committed to maintaining its reputation for bringing friendly, well-managed events to small and medium-sized communities who might otherwise not have the opportunity to entertain the tall ships.