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Heritage Rally Sept 15th 2018

An excellent entry of 13 boats took to the water for a perfect Force 3 to 4 sail in bright sunshine on Saturday 15th Sept in the Brixham part of Torbay.  This was a busy weekend for the hosts, Brixham Yacht Club, with both a Topper dinghy event and the finish of the big yachts coastal race from Exmouth.  However organisers Penny Jolley, Richard Spreckly and Chris Coote managed to fit everyone in, and the sailing course for Saturday afternoon using some of the remaining free BYC yacht racing marks, resulted in an almost perfect reaching conditions course for all to follow.  Entrants were asked to sail out of Brixham harbour at 14:00 for an afternoon’s sail in company for a couple of hours.  Led by big Brixham trawler “Vigilance”, the fleet ranged from her 100ft plus length to the smallest 16ft dinghy “Willow” with her gaff cutter rig added to what was formerly an RNLI rowing boarding boat.
A great variety of traditional rigs were seen at this Rally.  Junks were out in force including the 2 masted and rather sinister looking “Fly” owned by the chairman of the Junks association.  Traditional gaff cutters and ketches included Minx, Ros Alitha, Theta, Mishchief and others.  Local sailors Toni Knights and friends brought out their Looe lugger Iris and a Northumbrian fishing coble “True Vine” with a standing lug rig.  Fastest boat of all was the elegant Flying Dutchman sailing dinghy “Biggles”, showing off her speed and agility (especially of the crew!) by flying her spinnaker and charging through the fleet planning at times.
At the end of an almost perfect sailing afternoon, boats returned to their free berths on Brixham’s town pontoon ready for socialising and stories of classic sailing in their part of the world.  A large party took place in BYC with a magnificent buffet laid on for both the Heritage sailors and the Exe Champagne Challenge yacht racers.  The Heritage Rally raffled off a double sized bottle of whiskey kindly donated by sponsors St Austell Brewery.  The twist here was that first prize in the raffle was a packet of ginger biscuits, whilst 2nd prize was the whiskey!

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SATURDAY 26th and SUNDAY 27th MAY 2018.

  (Heritage Rally will be on Sept 15/16 2018.)

The Brixham Heritage Sailing Regatta has its roots in the Sailing Trawler races that have been held in Torbay since the early 1800’s. In 1914, King George V presented the Perpetual Challenge Cup also popularly known as the 'King George V Cup' or the 'Kings Cup', to be raced for by Brixham registered sailing trawlers over 40 tons. This was competed for annually from 1919 until 1939 when the war ended racing and sailing trawlers were rapidly being retired. Racing did not resume after the War, but the Brixham Heritage Sailing Regatta was revived by enthusiasts in 1997.


Brixham Royal Torbay Heritage Sailing Regatta May 27th 2018 by Chris Coote

Brixham was crowded with not only bank holiday tourists and visitors last weekend, but also by a veritable forest of masts of classic and historic sailing vessels gathering for the annual Heritage Sailing Regatta.  This event originally organised by Brixham fishermen for races with their traditional sailing trawlers started before the turn of the last century, and was revived in Brixham just over 20 years ago.  Since then the popularity of this event has grown to the extent that this year we had a record breaking entry of well over 30 boats and visitors from Brittany in France.

The town pontoon at Prince William Quay became the focal point for a weekend long party and celebration of classic sail.  Brixham Yacht Club provided the hosting of the event with a complimentary fish pie supper and party on the Saturday night followed by a magnificent running buffet for hungry sailors when they came off the water on Sunday afternoon before the traditional prize giving.

The sight of over 30 classic sailing vessels, ranging from the largest 100ft plus Brixham trawlers to the smallest 20ft gaff rigged tosher types proceeding out of the harbour in the parade of sail, produced a magnificent and nostalgic sight for many.
Unfortunately this spectacle did not last into the afternoon as the boats took to the waters of Torbay.  An already misty day turned into a thick sea mist just within the Bay with visibility down to less than 20 yards on occasions.  The sailing organisers reluctantly had to cancel any further sailing and make arrangements for the larger boats equipped with GPS navigation systems, to lead the smaller vessels safely back home to Brixham harbour.

A notable visitor was the green Breton lugger “Le Grand Lejon” who had sailed over from Brittany especially to take part.  Her crew were awarded the furthest distance travelled award plus the Concours D’Elegance “Ibex Cup” trophy for the best kept and presented vessel.  This award in particular is special to Brixham because the cup itself was “lost” for over 60 years but returned to its proper home last year after being donated back to Brixham Yacht Club by an elderly couple from N Devon.  They had befriended one of the last members of the famous Brixham boat building Upham family, and had been the custodians of the Cup for many years before deciding it should return to its original home.  The Ibex was the famous Brixham trawler designed and built by Andrew Upham on yacht like lines to speed its return to port with the first of the catch.  She was so fast that even after her sails were cut down, she still won most of her Regatta races.  The record was 29 wins out of 33 races entered.  She also made record breaking passages with her catch, on one occasion averaging over 10 knots from the Bristol Channel around Lands End and back to Brixham.

The Regatta organisers would like to thank Torbay harbour authority in particular for providing berthing facilities, and to all the helpers and volunteers at Brixham Yacht Club for providing both the on and off the water boats and facilities which make this traditional event such a must in the summer holiday calendar.

Updated June 2018
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