Grain raceGrain Race or The Great Grain Race was the informal name for the annual windjammer sailing season generally from South Australia's grain ports on Spencer Gulf to Lizard Point, Cornwall on the southwesternmost coast of the United Kingdom, or to specific ports. A good, fast passage Australia-to-England via Cape Horn was considered anything under 100 days.
The racesThe cargo was grain, usually wheat. The sailing ships which loaded in Spencer Gulf from January to June were, in a broader context, "vivid evidence that South Australia was now inextricably bound into the rapidly developing global network of the wheat trade." The masters of the square-rigged grain carriers engaged in unofficial competition who would sail fastest across the southern ocean, around Cape Horn and up the Atlantic. While the race was informal, it was a source of betting and prestige. The competition gathered so much attention that in 1928 the International Paint Company donated a silver cup for the fastest passage.
The ship with most victories was the four-masted barque Herzogin Cecilie at six times. The fastest ship was Parma in 1933 in 83 days, and the events of the voyage are described by the captain's apprentice, Betty Jacobsen, in her book "A Girl Before the Mast" . The grain trade "flourished through the 1930s and reached its peak in 1939." That year thirteen windjammers rode at anchor off Port Victoria. "With the exception of two German ships, all ... flew the flag of the Gustaf Erikson Line and the pale blue Finnish cross."