ELSIE crew, 1921

Al Bezanson submits-

from verso:  "Elsie's crew, 1921 International Fishermen's Races."  photo: Cox Bros., Halifax N.S.
Gardner Lamson Collection

From the collections of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Elsie’s crew, 1921 International Fishermen’s Races (photo:  Cox Bros., Halifax, Nova Scotia)  Capt. Marty Welch.

Fred Buck has pitched in to help the Schooner Festival committee recruit entries and increase public awareness of the original International Fishermen’s Races.  This is one of several photographs of ELSIE the Cape Ann Museum is sharing for our use.

From A Race for Real Sailors   The first ELSIE – BLUENOSE race.

______ The combination of wind and too much sail proved to be more than the ELSIE could bear.  First to go was her jib topsail halyard.  As a crewman scampered out onto her bowsprit to re-reeve the halyard, the bow plunged deeply into the sea, burying the bowsprit to the third hank of her jib.  Moments later, the foremast snapped off at the cap and both jib topsail and staysail came down in a mess of wire stays and rigging.  Without missing a beat, the crew set about clearing up the wreckage.  The mate and a couple of fishermen headed out on the bowsprit to cut away the jib topsail that was now dragging under the forefoot.  “Down into the jumping sea went the bowsprit and the three sailors were plunged under five feet of water.  They cut away the sail and brought it in with the crew behind them hauling it inboard through the green-white smother.”  Those aloft worked frantically to secure the topmast, assorted wires, blocks and halyards.

Within six minutes the ELSIE, under forcefully shortened sail, appeared to be making better time than before.  Angus Walters reacted in the spirit of sportsmanship by immediately dousing his own jib topsail and clewing up his main topsail.  _______                               

Al Bezanson


  • Wow! A thrilling read! My stomach was riding those waves, and plunging underwater with those crewmen. Made me want more! Thanks so much for sharing.


  • Al this is an answer to your previous Elsie post. Frank C. Pearce was my great grandfather


  • Aha Zefra … I see in Fast and Able that he purchased the controlling shares the year following this race, and was later bought out by Gorton-Pew who acquired Elsie in the sale. Thanks for sharing.

    The ‘real sailors’ in this photo are even more real when you look at their faces. It will be interesting to see if GMG readers can put up some names and perhaps add to this story.

    Watch for another post of the first Elsie-Bluenose race.


  • Thanks for this. Love looking at those fishermen. Captain Welch was my grandfather and I’m thinking that he’s at the top, far left, although I could be wrong. He looks the most like the photos I have of him. I never knew him but love to see anything about him and those fine men.


    • Hello cousin Dawn! [Cap’n Marty was my grandpa also.]

      Lots of pix and even movies regarding that 1921 race . . .

      Its too bad the press photographers weren’t around so much in 1920, when Marty, his magnificent crew, and Gloucester won the races — with “pick of the litter”, ESPERANTO.

      Torrey Welch
      Northern CA


  • Al, your doing an outstanding job helping to promote the best weekend Gloucester has. The Schooner Festival is shaping up to be a happening like none other. See you at the starting line (during the race I hope you see the stern of my boat all the way…hahahah}


  • Cap’n — lookin’ at SUGAR BABE’S lovely rear end is always a pleasure. However, this year we are taking extraordinary steps to give GREEN DRAGON a little extra turn of speed. If you keep your eye on GMG you will see what I’m talkin’ about.


  • Joey____ It may have escaped notice that ‘Another Dawn’, the granddaughter of Capt. Marty Welch posted a very important link in the comments here. It is the very crew list we were looking for! ELSIE’s crew was treated to a splendid dinner in Halifax and the crew list appears on the menu shown in the link.

    If there is a way you can post this again showing both the crew photo along with the crew list photo GMG readers might be prompted to add names to the faces.


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