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The Power of a Dream: Events Instigated by Captain Lane A. Briggs

photo of Norfolk Rebel and tug Yorktown
Norfolk Rebel and tug Yorktown 2007 Harborfest courtesy of Bob Postle
Photographer Bob Postle

Norfolk Harborfest

Almost thirty-five years ago the Norwegian Tall Ship Christian Radich came to call at Norfolk Harbor.  Norfolk's waterfront had no city-owned dock on which to put the vessel, so she was docked three blocks away from Town Point at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pier.  In one and a half days she received over 13,000 visitors from the city of Norfolk.  The Christian Radich's visit showed Captain Lane and some of the city planners the need for a waterfront public park that could accommodate visiting vessels and host maritime events.  This was the birth of Norfolk's Harborfest.   
Over the years Norfolk's Harborfest has hosted vessels from countries all over the world, and exposed millions of visitors maritime history and tradition.  Harborfest's lasting result has been the revitalization of Norfolk's waterfront and downtown, and the creation of a popular public park that now hosts Festevents six months out of the year.

The 30th annual Norfolk Harborfest in 2006 was dedicated to the memory of Captain Lane A. Briggs in thanks for all he had given to the city of Norfolk and the Chesapeake maritime community.  In the parade of sail a long line of Tall Ships saluted the Tugantine Norfolk Rebel in honor of Lane's expansive vision and hospitality.  The pier at Waterside Marina where the Norfolk Rebel traditionally tied up was christened "Briggs Point" with a brass plaque and a cup of Tugantine Tea.  But what would have thrilled Lane most that year was that his grandson Chessy Briggs won the the line toss at the 2006 Harborfest Tug Muster.

Norfolk's Festevents and Harborfest
Photo of Harborfest 2006 honoring Lane Brigg;s legacy
2006 Harborfest honoring Captain Lane Briggs and his many contributions - courtesy of Bob Postle

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

When the Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned in Baltimore  in 1988, and was about to embark on her maiden voyage, Captain Lane Briggs challenged her Captain to a race down the bay.  It would be two year's before Lane's dream of a Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race would materialize.  Inspired by the the historic races of schooners to their ports, Lane hoped to create an event that would raise awareness of the Chesapeake Bay's rich maritime heritage, and its fragile natural resources.
Lane envisioned the longest Schooner Race course on the east coast: from the port of Baltimore, MD, to the port of Norfolk, VA.  Through Lane's tenacity and ability to get people to work together, the first Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race was held in October of 1990.  There were just six schooners at the start.  But by 1999 the race had grown to 47 registered schooners.    
photo of 10th year Tugantine crew
10th year Norfolk Rebel Schooner Race Crew
The popularity of the race is due largely to Lane's philosophy that the race should celebrate the crews of the vessels.  And its amazing to see 40 to 50 schooners in the Chesapeake Bay at the start of the race.  Over 150 schooners have participated in the race.  But the Tugantine Norfolk Rebel is the only schooner who has participated in every single race.
All the proceeds from the race go to fund children's programs through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  To date the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race has raised over $75,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and sent hundreds of children to sea.

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Pride of Baltimore II
photo collage of GCBSR with Tugantine and Pride
The Tugantine Norfolk Rebel and the Pride of Baltimore battle it out at the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

Teaching the Next Generation: Sail Training

Throughout Lane's life he actively promoted sail training.  As a captain he knew first hand that a captain is really only as good as his crew, and crew members need to respect and depend on one another.  Lane prided himself in working his crew hard and teaching them well.  Many captains came off his ship.

 Lane also wanted to share his deep love of the sea and it's rich maritime heritage.  He was involved in many organizations including the American Sail Training Association, Norfolk School of Boatbuilding, Norfolk School of Fisheries and Seamanship, and the American Schooner Association.  Lane long dreamed of a Hampton Roads Navy sail training program that would take the Chesapeake's youth to sea.  This was finally realized in the launch of the Schooner Virginia in 2004.
photo of Lane teaching his grandkids to splice line
Lane teaching his grandsons Lee & Chessy to splice line
Scholarships in Lane's memory are now available from both the Schooner Virginia and the American Sail Training Association in hopes of sending many more young people to sea.

American Sail Training Association
Schooner Virginia

Friends of the Norfolk Rebel 

1553 Bayville St., Norfolk, VA 23503