The Evolution of Sail Training from the Nineteenth Century to the 1980s

By Frank Scott, published August 2020


This article considers sail training over a period of some 150 years, starting with its early nineteenth-century origins. It takes the first Tall Ships’ Race in 1956 as a key point, using the races as barometer thereafter for progress up to the 1980s, by which time the upward trend towards becoming global was well established. It shows that this has been a neglected area for research, tries to separate facts from myths and illustrates how three sail training streams emerged: naval, mercantile and civilian adventure. Legendary figures such as Alan Villiers and Irving Johnson were involved in its development, as was Kurt Hahn, and the article traces how sail training changed from the provision of professional skill-based training to character-building and teamwork.

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Filed under: Post WW2 | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Manpower & Life at Sea | Ship Handling & Seamanship

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