Tall Ships: Summerwind’s still roaring long after the ’20s

COURTESY PHOTO | Summerwind, a champion racing yacht, will be one of the seven tall ships in Greenport Harbor this weekend.

Summerwind, the last featured ship in our running series on the vessels that will drop anchor in Greenport for this weekend’s Tall Ships event, is the newest addition to the fleet of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point.

Launched as the Queen Tyi in 1929, Summerwind provides sail training for academy midshipmen. The vessel was designed by Boston’s John G. Alden Company and built for a Wall Street banker, who lost ownership as a result of the 1929 stock market crash. The ship was next named Sea Gypsy and earned fame as a racing and cruising yacht throughout New England waters, and during World War II it served on the coastal picket patrol.

In 2006, Summerwind underwent a massive, two-year restoration and was almost entirely replanked. The rig, a classic gaff rig converted to that of a staysail schooner, was again updated to make the vessel a champion racer on the classic racing circuit. In 2009, the vessel took first place at the Newport Bucket Regatta under its current name.

Together, Summerwind, Picton Castle, Pride of Baltimore II, Lynx, HMS Bounty, Unicorn and the latest confirmed tall ship, Roseway, represent the tall ships sailing in for Greenport’s Memorial Day festival this year.

The five vessels are currently competing in the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 races commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. They’re racing from Savannah, Ga., to Charleston, S.C., up to Greenport and, after this weekend’s festival, on to Newport, R.I., and finishing in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tickets for Greenport’s Tall Ships event can be purchased on the village website, Ticket holders will be able to board and tour the vessels while they are docked in Greenport Harbor Saturday through Monday noon.

Festival attendees will also have the opportunity to sail on the 114-ton Lynx, an interpretation of a naval schooner from the War of 1812, between 3 and 5 p.m. Friday. Tickets for the sail cost $65 for adults, $55 for seniors and active military and $35 for children 12 and under. For reservations call (866) 446-5969 or visit

Looking beyond the race and the weekend’s festivities, the crew of Picton Castle is collecting children’s books, good used reference books and textbooks and school supplies like paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons and art supplies to distribute to island schools they’ll visit while sailing around the Pacific later this year. Donations may be brought to the East End Seaport Museum in Greenport, open all weekend.

[email protected]