Falmouth Week, a festival of sail, celebrates sailing in all of its forms... Shrimpers and traditional Westcountry work boats mix it with J24s, Sigmas and Flying Fifteens in a case of east meets west, and old meets new
Falmouth Week, a festival of sail, celebrates sailing in all of its forms… Shrimpers and traditional Westcountry work boats mix it with J24s, Sigmas and Flying Fifteens in a case of east meets west, old meets new. With entries standing at more than 400 boats and an average of four crew per boat, it all amounts to a large number of competitors taking part in an event that has more than just a great yachting venue as an attraction.
Organised by the Port of Falmouth Sailing Association, the event is a combination of regattas run by the various local sailing clubs. Helford River Sailing Club, Mylor Yacht Club, Restronguet Sailing Club, Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, St Mawes Sailing Club and Flushing Sailing Club all take it in turn to entertain a day’s racing and afternoon’s prize-giving over a cream tea.
Racing takes place daily, starting mid-morning until early afternoon. Naturally competitors are out there to win, but unlike Cowes Week, the winning is less of an issue. It is perhaps one of the few occasions when the old adage, ‘it’s the taking part that counts’, actually holds water. The Falmouth backdrop with Crabbers and Shrimpers reaching across the course complete with colourful topsails, pastel-coloured hulls and matching crew clothing is sight to compare with the most popular regattas across the world.
The 23 different classes are divided into several groups, dinghies, small keelboats/work boats and modern yachts of various IRC ratings. Courses change daily, and depending on the conditions, the smaller boats may race within the harbour. Start lines are short, and often busy with boats eager to jump the start; general recalls are a regular feature. Courses tend to be quite short with several laps around typical triangular, upwind, reach and run legs. Blackthorn are the main sponsors this year, and saving the best until last, each boat crossing the finish line is rewarded with the Blackthorn RIB ‘making a drop’ of cans of cider.
Each evening after prize-giving, the event tent welcomes competitors to enjoy some Westcountry hospitality and entertainment. That is where everyone will be tonight for the official event prizegiving. Racing concludes this afternoon, however if you are keen to participate next year, it’s well worth taking the time. If you need more persuasion, Falmouth Week is one of the few events in the UK where you can acquire one of the obligatory red, soon to be faded pink, Mount Gay Rum caps. Not to mention the fact that local sailor, Ben Ainslie, was ousted as tonight’s guest of honour and prizegiver by none other than Miss Falmouth!