Video Find: The Last Cape Horners, the End of the Great Sailing Ship Era

Sailing ships and pregnant women—the two most useful things in the world, said Gustaf Erikson of Finland, who owned the last great fleet of square-rigged sailing ships the world would ever see. (Not much is known about his love life?)

The 1920s saw the end of the great sailing ships used in trade, as competition from steam vessels won out. Erikson bought up ships at scrap prices and made them pay off. Far-flung routes were the last hope for his windjammers, routes that lacked the facilities steam ships needed. 

One of these was the grain trade between Australia and Europe, a route crossing the Indian Ocean and rounding the Cape of Good Hope before the long stretch northward around the Guinea coast to Europe.

Suddenly the world took an interest, wanting to see which of Erikson's ships would reach Europe in the shortest time—and the "Grain Races" were born.

See more:

• Wikipedia: Gustaf Erikson

• New York Times 1947 article: Born to Baltic Ship Trade, Gustaf Erikson Kept His Wind jammers at Sea With Paying Cargo to the Last; CARGO FLEETS' END IN SAIL IS MARKED

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