Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races Historical

Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races Historical (HM1XHF)

Location: Biloxi, MS 39530 Harrison County
Country: United States of America

N 30° 23.535', W 88° 52.259'

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—Historic Biloxi —

The Biloxi schooner was first and foremost the work horse of the
seafood industry, but during the summer off-season it played a role
in maritime sport and recreation. As early as the 1830s, Biloxi-built
schooners were used for fishing and transporting timber to New
Orleans and Mobile. The 1881 establishment of Biloxi's seafood
industry sparked a building boom of schooners. Back Bay Biloxi
shipyards turned out vessels that were broad of beam and of shallow
draft. The two-masted gaff-rigged schooner used a retractable
centerboard to glide easily through the shoal waters of the Mississippi
Sound and Louisiana marshes. Over time, larger schooners were built
to meet the increasing demands for Gulf seafood.

Regattas, held under the auspices of the Southern Yacht Club of New
Orleans, had been hosted in turn by towns along the Mississippi Coast
since antebellum days. The two-day regattas featured races among
different types and classifications of boats. Regatta officials created
a classification for working schooners for the first time in 1890. The
owner of each seafood cannery entered his fastest schooner. The
working schooner races stole the show in late 19th Century regattas
Schooner captains also enjoyed pitting their skills unofficially. A keen
rivalry sparked lively races to and from the fishing grounds. The
billowing sails silhouetted against the horizon inspired the name
White-winged Queens.

By the early 1920s, the white wing races had become the most
important event in the annual regattas and were the highlight of
July Fourth celebrations. Six to eight schooners carrying six sails
and a ballast crew of 25 or 30 raced for a purse of $100. During the
late 1920s, the Biloxi schooner races gained international attention
Photographers from major movie newsreel companies, newspapers
and sailing magazines filmed as schooner
masters jockeyed for the slightest advantage
on the 15-mile race course. The tall sails
spread before the wind and the skillful tacking
back and forth with powerful speed was a
thrilling sight and a great show of seamanship.

The last big schooner race with sails only
occurred in 1932. When Mississippi lifted its
ban on the motorized dredging of oysters in
1933, schooner owners began removing masts
and installing engines. A race between four
auxiliary schooners (both sails and engines)
took place in 1938, after which the white-winged queens disappeared from the horizon.

[Photo Captions]

Middle top: The Mary Margaret jockeys for first place in the 1930 schooner race. Launched in 1929, she was the last built and largest of the Biloxi schooners. She won every race she entered and remained undefeated. Credit: Biloxi Public Library

Middle bottom: Both the regular and ballast crews are jubilant after having won a Biloxi schooner race. The prize would have been $75 or $100 and/or a keg of beer. Credit: Biloxi Public Library

Right bottom: Crowds of spectators line the decks of the Biloxi Yacht Club as the schooner Annie Eve heads out on the 15-mile race course in the late 1920s. Hurricane Camille destroyed the yacht club in 1960.
Credit: Biloxi Public Library
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Year Placed2015
Placed ByThe City of Biloxi
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, March 25th, 2017 at 5:02pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16R E 320246 N 3363736
Decimal Degrees30.39225000, -88.87098333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 30° 23.535', W 88° 52.259'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds30° 23' 32.1" N, 88° 52' 15.54" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)228
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 333-411 US-90, Biloxi MS 39530, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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