“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Biloxi in Harrison County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races


—Historic Biloxi —

Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, March 22, 2017
1. Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races Marker
Inscription. 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
Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races marker near the Schooner Pier. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, March 22, 2017
2. Biloxi's Famous Schooner Races marker near the Schooner Pier.
great 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
Erected 2015 by the City of Biloxi.
Location. 30° 23.535′ N, 88° 52.259′ W. Marker is in Biloxi, Mississippi, in Harrison County. Marker can be reached from Beach Boulevard (U.S. 90) 0.2 miles west of Oak Street. Touch for map. Located south of the parking lot, just off the pier, by the stairs. Marker is at or near this postal address: 367 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi MS 39530, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Deer Island Coastal Preserve (here, next to this marker); Tullis-Toledano House (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tivoli Hotel (about 800 feet away); Birthplace of Barq's (approx. half a mile away); Debuys-Hermann-Keller House (approx. 0.6 miles away); Vance-Gillis House (approx. 0.6 miles away); Church of the Redeemer (approx. 0.7 miles away); Slavic Benevolent Association (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Biloxi.
Also see . . .
1. Shipbuilding Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast - More about the Schooners. (Submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. The Mary Margaret Schooner. (Submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
3. The Biloxi Schooner. (Submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. EntertainmentNotable EventsWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on March 25, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 193 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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