Race Frequently Asked Questions

What's the deadline for entries?

Technically, there isn’t one.  However, docking is a limiting factor, so the cut-off for the 3,000-foot fleet limit will be determined on a first-paid, first-entered basis. Only complete entries will be considered. In addition, if you register after September 8th, it will no longer be possible to get your boat name printed on your race shirts.  Sorry, but it turns out that even in our modern, online-world, some things just take time to complete and ordering, printing and shipping shirts is one of them!

What happens if I miss the cut-off?

A waiting list will be maintained once the limit is reached. We will contact wait-listed vessels.

After I have entered, do I just show up at the start?

Please refer to the Schedule for activities. There is an All Hands’ meeting on Wednesday afternoon and a mandatory skippers’ meeting on Thursday morning before lines are cast off to proceed to the start. Schooners not represented at both of these mandatory meetings will be disqualified. Captains unable to attend in person must arrange official representation and notify the race committee.

Do I have to participate in the Parade of Sail?

Parade participation is optional, but encouraged, as it helps develop public awareness of the event, is good for race publicity and helps generate future financial support. If you have room on board for a guest or two, please consider embarking some race sponsors or volunteers.

What if I can't get away for the whole event?

If your schedule will not permit participation in all events, we still want you to come. Contact us to make arrangements.

Can I invite my family and friends to the land events?

The public may watch the Parade of Sail and view the schooners dockside in both ports. Other events are open only to captains, crew, sponsors and volunteers. (although some crew have been known to drive from one end of the Race to the other! 😉

Why do I pay extra for my paying passengers?

Race expenses grow in direct proportion to the number of people on board participating schooners. We expect commercial vessels to pass some of this cost on to their customers.

Why do you request a donation from participants?

Fundamentally, this is a fundraiser.  We are raising funds for non-profit organizations around the Bay area that support our mission of promoting education and public awareness of the Chesapeake Bay’s maritime heritage and encouraging the preservation and improvement of the Chesapeake’s natural resources. We keep the registration costs to the bare minimum, in fact they barely cover the cost of putting on the race, so as to encourage registration from all possible schooners and their captains. Many captains, even those not participating, enjoy making a contribution to assure the continued success of this event and support its mission. Some schooners have even held private fundraisers to support the GCBSR. We want the event to be affordable for all schooners so donations are strictly voluntary but highly encouraged. Donations to the race are tax deductible under 501(c)3 and qualify for employer matches. We list each donation under the boat’s name on our promotional materials unless you instruct otherwise.

Net proceeds from the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race support local non-profits in the two areas where we celebrate the race, Baltimore/Annapolis and Portsmouth/Norfolk. Local organizations are sought out whose mission aligns with ours. To date, donees have included the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sail Baltimore, Oyster Recovery Project, Elizabeth River Project and the Mariners Museum in Yorktown, among others. If you have a needy organization in mind, we’d love to hear your suggestion! Please contact Nan Nawrocki (Nan.gcbsr@gmail.com).  

When do I have to be in Baltimore?

All schooners are expected to dock in Baltimore no later than 1300 hours on Wednesday. You are welcome to arrive as early on Monday as you wish; docking will be arranged.

What if my plans change after I send the entry forms?

Please let us know. Send a message to race@gcbsr.org

Is my entry fee refundable?

No. Your entry fee is not refundable. This race is a fundraiser for charitable giving, so your money will go to good use.

How do I contact the race committee?

Please send a message to race@gcbsr.org.

Where do I dock in Baltimore?

All participating schooners will be assigned a berth in Baltimore. We will send captains all of the docking information by email in advance of race week. We will help you arrange transportation, provisioning, ice, etc. Early arrivals are welcome and can receive free docking beginning on Tuesday. Hail “Schooner Race Dockmaster” on VHF 16 as you enter the harbor. You will then be asked to switch to VHF 68.

What do I do when I get to Baltimore?

Please fuel your vessel and pump your holding tank before docking. The morning of the race you really will not have time to do this.  We encourage you to take a turn around the Inner Harbor under sail before you tie up to promote the race to the public.

How can I receive mail, packages and faxes during race week?

Send a message to race@gcbsr.org regarding deliveries to Baltimore or to Virginia@gcbsr.org for deliveries to Portsmouth.

May I open to the public for tours?

Yes, in both ports. Send us a press kit. If you sell souvenirs, please keep this activity aboard the vessel.

What do I put on my float plan?

Expect to arrive in Portsmouth between Friday morning and Saturday morning, depending on the weather and your speed. Make sure your family knows how to communicate with us in event of personal emergencies.

Do I have to complete an entry form if everything is the same as last year?

Yes, you are not registered for the current year’s race until you complete an entry form in its entirety.

Do I have to complete the handicapping data form?

Yes! Even if you have raced before and measurements, prop, sail inventory, etc. remain unchanged, you should submit the information. Please measure your vessel and enter the measurements online or mail this data to us when you register. We strongly advise you to measure your boat, not her plans!

Must I order race shirts?

Yes, they admit you to all festivities.

Why do you want so much information about my schooner?

We like to know about all of the schooners for publicity purposes. We’d like to know how long you’ve had her, where you have been sailing her, what you know about her history, and anything about her that makes you love her. Please email photos to race@gcbsr.org.

What should I tell the cook?

We will assist with transportation for provisioning in both ports. Sixteen pound bags of ice will be available in Portsmouth at cost. We feed you and your crew on Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon. Other meals are on your own. There are great places to eat within an easy walk of our docks in both ports.

Who organizes this race?

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, Inc. is a Virginia nonprofit corporation under IRS 501(c)(3). About 100 volunteers in each port, led by race chairs, make the race and activities run smoothly.