Two of the Gloucester built Grand Banks fishing schooners are depicted racing home to determine who will get their season's catch to market first. Both schooners are hard on the wind on port tack under a full press of canvas including fisherman staysails and jib topsails.
From colonial times, fishing has always been a prosperous industry in New England. The town of Gloucester, located on Massachusetts' Cape Ann, became the premier port of this harsh and risky enterprise. The famous Gloucester fishing schooners, most built at the nearby town of Essex, set forth in all kinds of weather, spending months at sea on the remote North Atlantic fishing grounds before racing back to port with their holds filled with cod, halibut or mackerel.
Designed for speed to get their fish to market first, impromptu races between homeward bound 'high liners' were common. 'Fast and able' was the term Gloucester used to describe their qualities. It was not until the advent of the steam trawler in the 1920's that the little port of Gloucester yielded its supremacy to Boston.
Based on his journals, artist Duncan Gleason is known to have spent at least one season dory fishing aboard a schooner in the Grand Banks fleet. He also often attended the annual fisherman's races held off Gloucester when the fastest American schooner would meet the fastest Canadian fisherman in a match race.
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