BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An unusual sight at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor–dozens of historic boats, flying full sail. It’s the kickoff to the 23rd Great Chesapeake Schooner Race–a harrowing 150 mile race down the bay.

Christie Ileto has more from Wednesday night’s “Parade of Sail.”

Marylanders got an up-close look at the vessels the day before the big race Thursday, but it’s what the crews are racing for that’s making waves in Maryland’s waters.

A fleet of schooners was sailing into Baltimore’s harbor Wednesday for the Great Chesapeake Schooner Race.

Thirty-five vessels with crews from up and down the Atlantic Coast will be racing one another Thursday for one goal:

“To teach to the heritage of the bay, bring people back to the water,” said Paul Brabazon, Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.

A lesson in preserving Maryland’s waters and a chance to help kids like those at “Believe In Tomorrow” to experience something new.

“It gives kids staying at our facility, who have traveled to Baltimore to receive treatment at Johns Hopkins, the opportunity to get out away from the hospital,” said Sean Morrison, Believe In Tomorrow Foundation.

But racing towards that goal isn’t easy. Captains and their crews do a 127 nautical mile sprint down the bay, starting just south of the Bay Bridge in Annapolis to Norfolk, Virginia.

Annapolis native Duncan Hood has done several races.

“That’s scary and intense. We’re up all night long. And that’s something like 20-25 hours,” Hood said.

Twenty-four years ago, the Pride of Baltimore II and the tugantine Norfolk Rebel challenged each other to a friendly race down the bay, and that’s how it all started.

Today, the friendly competition has raised more than $175,000 for the cause. And by the start of Thursday’s race, the fleet of schooners will continue their race to protect Maryland’s water.

The big race kicks off Thursday afternoon.

The race has become a major attraction. No monetary prizes are given and entrance fees go to the foundation.

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