Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Old 'Red Duster' Downed 11 Flags: Schooner Days MCCLXXXVI (1286)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 8 Sep 1956
Full Text
Old 'Red Duster' Downed 11 Flags
Schooner Days MCCLXXXVI (1286)

by C. H. J. Snider

ACTUAL winner of this year's 800-mile Torquay to Lisbon saltwater race of training ships of eleven nations - England, Holland, France, Portugal, Italy, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Belgium - was the very British ketch Moyana of Southampton She flew the Red ensign of the merchant services.

She was fifty-seven years old; an ex-racing cutter, re-rigged as a training ship for the Southampton School of Navigation. That institution turns out masters, mates, cadets and apprentices for the merchant marine of the United Kingdom.

If was a handicap race, the larger allowing time to the smaller. Fair enough, but this produced many surprises. A sliver of an Argentine ketch was first in. The biggest ship of all, a Portuguese barque of near 2,000 tons, was tenth. A still smaller sliver from Italy was first among 100-tonners and won five prizes. And the British entry—fourth in—won first place in her division and two prizes over all.


Moyana won her race fair and square, as the little Artica did hers. One cannot feel anything but admiration for the ketch Juana, the Argentine 25-tonner, which was first of the whole fleet of twenty to cross the bar, with the 1932-ton Sagres ninth big vessel behind her, and hours too, at that.

Moyana won because she was well sailed, in conditions suitable fo her. She kept her jibtopsail aloft the whole time. A great sail out on the end of her 20-ft bowsprit, filling her whole head triangle space and overlapping the mainsail. Made of terraplane the sail was very strong and very light, so porous that it did not require leach holes or "venilators" to discharge the dead air, and took its proper airfoil curve quickly. It did not stretch or become distorted under strain. It cost the Navigation School a pretty penny - and paid for itself.

When becalmed in the Bay of Biscay that sail was always first to feel the first faint tremors of reviving air. Moyana was almost stationary for 18 hours off Finisterre, in weather so light that the fifteen cadets aboard her went in for a swim by watches.

This gallant mahogany Victorian was built by Whites of Southampton for the Earl of Dunraven, the good. and misunderstood yachtsman who built three Valkyries for the America's Cup before Queen Victoria and the 19th century died. Dunraven protested the American defender and lost his case, leaving the leather medal of Good Loser to one whom it fitted better.

Moyana however was not an America's Cup aspirant. She was meant for the King's Cup (Edward VII's) at Cowes, and this she won, when the present-century was wearing 3-cornered pants.

She was no mere racing toy but an able seagoing yacht, longer than Commodore Engholm's flagship Ivanhoe or Harry Greb's Mir, of the R.C.Y.C. Her original racing cutter rig-—one mast and five working sails-—had been replaced by a modern "marconi" ketch rig with four triangular working sails, no gaffs, and two masts. This rig is typical of the present-day ketch. A few yet retain the older gaff-headed rig. She was much like the 97-foot overall Oriole IV which Commodore Geo. H. Gooderham built to expound the marconi rig on the lakes.

Oriole, by the way, is now R. C. N., and sailed from Halifax to Esquimalt.


The taunt of "racing machine" and "ringer" could not be thrown at any of the contestants. All answered to Lloyds' specifications, and were what their respective nations considered suitable for training their merchant sailors in seafaring under sail.

Moyana had a crew of five certificated officers, masters and mates, two petty officers, and fifteen cadets - all of or for the merchant navy - and half of them never to sea before. The cadets were up to 17 years of age, well-grown and likely-looking lads, some of wealthy parentage, all intent on earning their living from the cruel sea. One lad was seasick every day of the race but stood his tricks and watches uncomplainingly and never faltered or fumbled. The skipper was 46 and got his ticket before the last war.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
8 Sep 1956
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Lisbon, Portugal
    Latitude: 38.71667 Longitude: -9.13333
  • England, United Kingdom
    Latitude: 50.46198 Longitude: -3.52522
Richard Palmer
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by [more details]
Copyright Statement
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Old 'Red Duster' Downed 11 Flags: Schooner Days MCCLXXXVI (1286)