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The 1921 International Fishermen’s Race

Bluenose October 25th, 1921 — W.R. MacAskill


The second International Fishermen’s Cup — as it became fondly known — was set to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia the second half of October 1921. It was to be a best two out of three series between the fastest fishing schooner out of Nova Scotia, and the fastest fishing schooner out of Gloucester.

Each port held their own eliminations races in mid-October. On the Canadian side, the new and hopeful schooner BLUENOSE won the right to represent Canada in the races, and on the American side the little schooner ELSIE out of Gloucester Skippered by Marty Welch was to defend their title.
Marty Welch was the Captain of Esperanto when the Americans won the first International series in 1920 — however she struck a wreck off Sable Island and sank — her crew, having been rescued by ELSIE.
Elsie without fore topmast, 1921 — W.R. MacAskill
ELSIE arrived in Halifax on October 20th and she first met BLUENOSE for their match on October 22nd — a crisp Saturday with a stiff fishermen’s breeze. A perfect day for a race.
The cannon fired and ELSIE was first over the start line. The first half of the race was a battle for the weather berth — but in the second half, BLUENOSE found herself ahead of the competition. Desperate to regain the lead, Marty Welch threw up every inch of canvas he had — but in doing so lost his fore topmast. Crew scrambled to clear the wreckage of rigging and the race went on — with BLUENOSE dousing the same amount of sail to ensure it was a fair match. In the end, BLUENOSE came flying over the finish line 12 minutes ahead of ELSIE.
The second race of the series took place on October 24th in much lighter winds — with ELSIE first over the start once more. Angus was criticized for his slow start, and was quoted saying “It ain’t who crosses the starting line first that counts, if we can cross the finish line first that’s the main thing!” And that’s exactly what they did!
The Canadian schooner BLUENOSE was declared the champion and the Cup was “rightfully brought back home.”
Captain Angus Walters with the International Fishermen’s Cup on the deck of Bluenose, 1921 — W.R. MacAskill

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