The long voyage of the Sailing Ships

(by Capt. Bruno Malatesta) - Part 1

The Ships

Just to clarify this typology, here below are listed the most common Sailing Ships which crossed the seven seas carrying abroad the strong maritime tradition of Camogli.

Here below is a "barque": her masts are "square rigged" (A,B - vele quadre) and "fore&aft rigged" (C - vele auriche). The combination between these types of rigged masts gives the names to other Sailing Ships:

A "Barque" (Brigantino a Palo)

Clipper (Veliero veloce) = She is equipped with all square rigged masts (all A,B type). Her hull is very sharp so as to sail faster through the sea

Ship (Nave) = Same as the clipper, with regular hull, slower. She is presently called "Tall ship"

Brig (Brigantino) = Ship equipped with 2 square rigged masts (A & B only)

Barque (Brigantino a palo) = She is the one in the picture above and was the most common ship during the Golden Agen of Sails in Camogli

Brigantine (Brigantino goletta) = She is equipped with 1 square rigged mast (A) and 1 fore&aft rigged mast (C)

Schooner (Scuna, Goletta, Barco bestia) = A sail ship equipped with 2 fore&aft rigged masts (only C)

All the above ships sailed for various trade purposes. Some of them were employed during the Crimea from 1853 until 1856. It has also to be stated here that no ships from Camogli ever partecipated to any slavery trade between Africa and the New World.

Inevitably, along with the new technology of the mechanic propulsion, the Sailing Ships went towards their end, which happened around 1915. The next World War wrote finally the epitaph for thousands of glorious vessels. Indeed, during the period 1853 - 1915, Camogli manned 1200 Sailing Ships to navigate on the high seas. When they first came onto the scene on 1853, the first insurance company (Associazione di Mutua Assicurazione Marittima) was formed by this formidable group of seamen, creating basic trade ethnics, which in turn were adopted by others overseas.

However, the sail period, as does so many cycles in life, had reached his peak and inevitable decline, like a ship sailing into the sunset.

Since then, we still have Sailing Ships which are still afloat: military training ships, floating museums, cruising vessels. Luckily, thanks to the donations of some special northern shipowners, today we can still admire the antique splendor of those four or more masted Tall Ships that still sail with unique dignity between the modern and "cold" engine powered ships.

The military training ships or "cadet schools" take part together in the Tall Ship Race, which was born on 1956 and it's the occasion to admire these last and only living relics of time gone by and to remember with nostalgia of those times of the glorious Sailing Ships and the related commercial competition. Between all these extraordinary vessels, there is one of the most beautiful Sailing Ships still afloat, the italian "Amerigo Vespucci", which is primarly employed as training ship for the Naval Academy cadets.

The "Amerigo Vespucci"

On 1992, in occasion of the 500th Anniversary of America Discovery, in front of our City, the Tall Ships departed for the World Race so as to celebrate that famous anniversary. That event was proudly coordinated by the Society of Sea Captains and Naval Engineers of Camogli.

1992: Departure from Camogli of the Talls Ships race for the 500th Anniversary of discovery of America (photo by B.Malatesta)

As mentioned before, other Sailing Ships are used as floating museums. One example for all: the famous "Cutty Sark", the "tea clipper", which is located at the prestigious site of Greenwich, in the U.K. This Ship was launched on 1869 and was employed in the trade with the Far East. It is interesting to know that she never won a "race" between Asia and the U.K. Presently, the Clipper is open to her visitors who are amazed to explore a well preserved Tall Ship from the past.

The "Cutty Sark

In the last group of ships, there are the ones who are employed in the cruising market. One of these beautiful Tall Ships is the S/s "Royal Clipper": a beautiful vessel which crosses the seas of half world for the pleasure of her guest, the pleasure of listening the sound of the wind passing through her white sails. This ship anchored at Camogli roads few times in the past.

Some history

The Royal Clipper was built on 2000 as a replica of the legendary ship "Preussen". This enterprise was the result of the passion for Sailing Ships of one of the northern shipowners and entrepreneurs mentioned above , Mr. Mikael Krafft. The "Preussen" was built on 1902 and was trading nitrate between Europe and South America. During her operations, she called ports in California and Japan as well; her top speed was 13.7 knots. The crossing from Europe to Chile was covered once in 57 days, a record for that time. She was the bigger Sailing Ship afloat.

The clipper "Preussen", built 1902 and lost on 1910

On 1910, while she was sailing through the English Channel, fatally, a steamer hit her on the forward hull. Nevertheless the efforts to save her, she went aground and was lost, in severe weather conditions, on the coast of Dover.

Maybe this was one of the most significant events to show to all the world, as an allegory, that the steam powered vessels were next to overtake the sailing ships forever.


The Royal Clipper

The "Royal Clipper" under sail (photo courtesy of Star Clippers -

The new Royal Clipper has the proud distinction of being the largest and only five-masted sailing ship built since her predecessor, the "Preussen", which was launched at the beginning of the last century. With her complement of 42 sails, Royal Clipper is a splendid sight to behold. You might think she was an apparition from the grand age of sail, but Royal Clipper is as new as tomorrow. She boasts state-of-the-art navigation systems and all the comforts of today.

For connoisseurs of sail cruising, the 439 foot Royal Clipper offers the ultimate sea-going experience, balancing the grandeur, adventure and tradition of sailing. Here are her data:

Tonnage: 5,000
Length: 439 feet
Beam: 54 feet
Draft: 18.5 feet
Sail area: 56,000 Square feet
Mast height: 197 feet
Number of Crew: 106
Passenger capacity: 227
Masts: 5 Masts, 42 Sails
Built to highest safety standards Lloyds 100A1
Ship's Registry: Luxembourg

And her deck plans:

The decks of the Royal Clipper (click on image to enlarge; courtesy of Star Clippers -

Visit the Royal Clipper

Thanks to Internet and the related technology, you can go through a virtual tour of the Royal Clipper. The complete 360° pictures are at:

Pictures of the virtual tour onboard the Royal Clipper (courtesy of Star Clippers -

The virtual tour of this great ship shows various pictures of the decks on board the Royal Clipper. The used technique is "at 360°", it means that you will have the sensation to be on board and turn around as you like. You should not miss the ones mounted on the "crow nest" (coffa) and the "bowsprit" (bompresso).

The "Royal Clipper" berthed at Rhodes, Greece (photo by B.Malatesta)

The "Royal Clipper" is deployed during the winter season in the Caribbean area and in the summertime, in the Western Mediterranean waters.

The modern Sailing Ships

Recently, a new generation of Sailing Ships came up: the "clipper yachts".

Not so long ago, at Portofino Roads, the "Maltese Falcon" was seen there for the first time. She can be considered the most innovative and revolutionary project of a traditional Sailing Ship.

The Clipper Yacht "Maltese Falcon" at Portofino Roads (photo by M. Malatesta)

Here is her data:

Length overall

289.1 ft / 88 m Falcon Rig m

Waterline length

256.6 ft / 78.22 m


42.2 ft / 12.6 m

Draught (keel up)

19.7 ft / 6 m

Draught (keel down)

36 ft / 11 m





Maximum displacement

1,240 t


2 Deutz TBD 620

Maximum power

2 x 1499 kW

Speed at maximum power

19.5 kt

Speed at maximum continuous rating

18.5 kt



Fuel capacity

81,300 lt

Fresh water

30,000 lt

Main mast height above DWL

191 ft / 58.2 m

Total sail area

25,791 ft² / 2,400 m²

Cockpit area

3,649 ft² / 339 m²

Saloon and wheelhouse area

3,111 ft² / 289 m²

Total owner and guest cabin area

4,650 ft² / 432 m²

Total crew area

3,154 ft² / 293 m²

Lazarette area

646 ft² / 60 m²

Guest cabins


Crew cabins


Guest number



June 2006

Interior Design

Ken Freivokh Studio Design

Naval Architecture

Gerard Dijkstra & Partners / Perini Navi


Perini Istanbul - Yildiz Gemi, Turkey

The concept of the "Clipper Yacht" has been developed by Tim Perkins, Naval Architect. We can consider the "Maltese Falcon", according with the rigging of her masts, a "clipper" indeed because she has three square rigged masts and her hull is very sharp so as to reach high speed at sea. Almost all of her technology is concentrated in the masts gears by a system called "Dynarig".

The "Maltese Falcon" with all the furled sails (photo by M.Malatesta)

This concept was originally started on 1965 as a possible alternative propulsion for tanker ships during the oil crisis; eventually, it was abandoned. The masts, 57 meters high, are made of carbon and they carry in total, 15 square sails made of polyestere. The yards (pennoni) are slightly curved, just to get the best performance during the wind stress. The work of Dynarig has been tested carefully on a model of the "Maltese Falcon" in the wind tunnel. The Dynarig system also tells to the crew, continuosly, the stress of the masts under sail. The masts rotate completely of 360° and this allow the "Maltese Falcon" to proceed almost to any course without changing tacks (mure) and to make turns almost around herself. The gear of the sails, so as to be furled and unfurled, uses some retractable shock cords which are fitted inside each leech (caduta delle vele) of the yards.

The "Maltese Falcon" sailing with aft quarters wind (photo by M.Malatesta)

The performance of the sails is satisfactory until 40 knots of true wind and the consequent listing due to side winds is no more than 15 °, which is an acceptable standards for commercial targets.

It will be based in Malta and employed as a yacht all around the world. Her cost is about 80 millions Euros.




(by Capt. Carlo Gatti) - Part 2


"Amerigo Vespucci" - painting by M. Locci


After the conclusion of the Vienna Congress, peace and political stability returned to the Mediterranean . The king of Sardinia , Vittorio Emanuele of Savoia, reintegrated the Genoa Republic into his antique courts. From that day on the Genoese capital went back to her original maritime ways and the glorious S.George flag flew proudly again on the masts of the great Tall Ships and propellered clippers' plying the worlds' oceans. Afterwards Genoa further developed her well known shipyards industry nearly every town and village on both sides of Riviera .

In succession, famous shipowners names came onto the scene during the second part of the century: Gattorno, Rocca, Frassinetti, Barbino, Danovaro, Mainetto, Costa, Drago, Vaccaio, Mazzolo, Balestrino, Fravega, Consigliere, Risso, Stagno, Berardo, Cordano, Canevaro and many others.

"Palinuro" - painting by M. Locci


It was that small, fascinating Riviera village called Camogli , that gave the highest contribution, before that of the Sardinian Navy and the Italian Navy. During the period 1860-1915, Camogli manned 1200 sailing ships for sailing on the high seas. When they first came onto the scene in 1853, the first Maritime Insurance Company ( Associazione di Mutua Assicurazione Marittima) was formed by this formidabile group of seamen, creating principal commercial ethic, which in turn were adopted by others overseas.

However, the sailing period, as does so many cycles in life, had reached its peak and an inevitable decline, like a ship sailing into the sunset.

In 1916 – half way through the First World War – was the year when the epitaph was written for thousands of sailing ships. More than 500 units were lost in Italy , either hit by cannons or from the German submarine mines, who also somethimes used torpedoes, which were more expensive than the sailing ships being disarmed. Thereafter the history, caught up in the vortex of newer wars and alluring technology, had forgotten for a long time the silent and romantic white sails and delegated the media to register, in September 1957, the tragic loss of “ Pamir ” the last clipper which sailed with nitrate and grain products, sinking in a disastrous hurricane in the Atlantic .

Today very few of those unrepeatable, magnificent sailing ships remain, belonging to the memories of those “days gone by” commercial voyages. Luckly, thanks to the donations of some special Northern shipowners amongst those Gustaf Erikson can still admire that antique splendour of those four masted ship that sail so dignified and majestic alone and in very good condition.

The american sailing ship "Eagle"


Here are the names:

“Pommern” – she enters drydock every year and under the marine manouevres carried out by her old Masters' way, continues to live in the Marienhamn port (in the Finland island of Åland ).

“Viking” - moored in a creek in Göteborg port, amongst the very modern Swedish maritime stations.

“Alf Chapman” – is a museum piece and a real pearl lying amongst the islands which are part of the Stockholm port, bulwark of the Old City (Gamla Stan).

“Passat” – also this ship is open to visitors in the Ferry-Port of Lubeck-Travemunde, and can be seen every day by thousands of passengers when they travel by Ferry between Germany and Denmark, passino in front of her.

“Eagle” – Also America can be proud of her 3 masted brigantine, being part of her group of sailing ships. This beautiful ship, durino the 2nd WW was converted to sail with mixed cargoes in the Baltic.


Today, nearly all the remaining tall ships are used as “cadet schools” and totale part in the Tall Ships Races, assembling together and becoming, the event. The Race was born in 1956, and is the occasion to admire these last and only living relics of times gone by and to remember with nostalgia of those times of the glorious sailing ships, the commercial competition, and maybe of sports, that used to be the main part of the maritime world for the best part of 1800, and that of the clippers carrying tea, grain and colonial goods etc.

The "Sedov"

In the long list of these traditional ships, only the Russian ships:

“Sedov” and “Kruzenstern”, can lay claim with just pride, to their nobel pedigree of the true ships used for commercial transport. The two sailing ships, however, magnificently maintain their form not only in their speeds, which can match their rivals of the this century.



There are very few spectacles that can surpass the emotion and graceful beauty as that of the Tall Ships when they silently sail out of the port for the open sea, a long sinous line in a colourful procession with their sails flying in the breeze like a mirage. This is the indelible memory that day that was part of Easter 1992, when the 500th Anniversary was celebrated of the Genovese explorer, Cristopher Colombus, who discovered America in 1492.

On that splendid day the antique customs were revived, followed by half a million enraptured tourists who had joined the Genovese coming to Genoa to participate with the immense skyline of so many ships, which seemed like a dream, but was in fact reality.

Celebrating the 500th Anniversay of America's discovery

It was Easter Sunday, the past seemed toh ave come alive with the great, long procession of such lovely ships which sailed slowly in line, a thousand Tall Ships with their white and – a few coloured sails – gently caressed by the direction of the bows pointing in the direction of the traditional Sanctuary:

“ la Camogli dei Mille Bianchi Velieri”.


Carlo Gatti, President of the Society of Sea Captains and Naval Engineers - Camogli


We just sailed a long voyage through the maritime traditions and developments of the Sailing Ships. Our objective was to remark some significant points so as to attract the interest of all those people who generally love the sea and all its environment. To say more, probably the whole space of the Internet would not be enough, but if you would like to know additional information about Sailing Ships, you are welcome to visit our Office or the Civic Maritime Museum at Camogli, see the "Contacts" page.