A fleet of 153 heritage and classic vessels and their 500 crew were not deterred from participating by the pandemic nor the heightened security in Falmouth owing to the G7. A forest of masts were to be seen in Falmouth Haven and the 100 boats entered for racing filled the Carrick Roads on Friday and Saturday. The spectacular parade on Sunday illustrated Falmouth’s rich maritime history with participating boats dating from 1881 to 2018. More than 40 of the fleet were built before 1950.
The organisers were overwhelmed with the response by many loyal and new participants. Boats came from as far afield as the Thames and Milford Haven. Several were new to the Classics such as Cynthia (1910) and Ayesha (1922). An initial January estimate of perhaps 80 boats was far exceeded.
Arrival on Thursday was frustrated by a sea fog to the east, although many arrived in the early and late evening with their last port being Fowey. A cloudy Friday turned out to be dry and provided south westerly and westerly winds up to Force 4 which provided competitive sailing. Saturday also provided good competition on the water for all eleven classes. The northerly wind failed as classes started to race and was replaced with a southerly. Later the northerly winds returned and increased in strength providing all boats with yet another enjoyable race.
Sunday dawned with a very light easterly wind but with wall to wall blue sky. As the two Royal Navy Scimitar Patrol boats set off around the parade course the wind increased sufficiently for all boats to sail. The pretty Anny of Charlestown, a 1930s topsail schooner, followed with two square sails set on her forward mast. To mark the 150th anniversary of the headline sponsor, the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, both pilot boats LK Mitchell and Arrow led a flotilla of nine sailing boats and a gig to reflect the ports maritime past. Th group included four sailing pilot cutters (Marian dating from 1889, Marguerite 1893, Mascotte 1904 and Agnes 2003), Barnabas, a St Ives fishing lugger launched in 1881, two Falmouth working boats built in the late 19th century – Victory (1882) and George Glasson (1898), Curlew a 1912 Falmouth Quay Punt and Cynthia a gentlemen’s yacht built in Falmouth in 1910 and possibly making her first return since 1927. Finally, Penarrow a Flushing and Mylor gig.
The parade was watched by 30 guests aboard centenarian passenger excursion boat MV Princessa. Guests included the Chairman of Cornwall Council, The Mayor of Falmouth, the Deputy Lieutenant, sponsors and local sailing club commodores. The guests nominated prize winners in five categories to win bottles of champagne. From the water, Pendennis Point seemed to be filled with people watching the event.
Shore side activity reflected the demands of Covid regulations. A virtual briefing was provided for participants, the Thursday and Friday receptions were modified and refreshments were delivered to boats to ensure there were no gatherings of over 30. To provide crews with music in the absence of the Falmouth International Shanty Festival, Bryher’s Boys proved popular on Thursday evening and the music of Hardiesse Harmonies was enjoyed on both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Whilst on Saturday evening jazz duo Jumping Out provided toe tapping music for two hours. Prize giving was limited to overall first and second prize winners and took place in the open air on Custom House Quay on Sunday afternoon. Prizes and trophies were presented by Carrie Gilmore, Chair of the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners.
The organisers look forward to a more normal event next year from 17 -19 June 2022