Blue skies and sun welcomed the 90 vessels arriving in the port on Thursday 15th to participate in the Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management Falmouth Classics.
Craft arrived by sea from France, the Essex Coast, the Thames, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, Solent and other parts of the West Country and joined local boats from the Fal, Truro River and the Helford. With 206 entries, numbers returned to pre-Covid levels. Volunteers, with the support of Falmouth Haven staff worked hard on Thursday to berth 68 boats from 4-16 metres on the Haven and larger craft in Port Pendennis Marina and on moorings. The home ports of many of the vessels reflected the location where they had been built with the exception of Scotland, Denmark, Malaya and Norway.
The event attracted a brig, ex fishing luggers, crabbers, a post boat used in Scilly, oyster dredgers, gaff and Bermudan cruisers, Bermudan rigged racers and gigs. A new introduction was a fleet of steam boats including the National Maritime Museum of Cornwall’s steam launch Emma.
Thirty percent of the entrants were built before 1950 and the oldest participant was the St Ives Pilchard Driver Barnabas (1881), with the Gorran Haven Crabber, Ellen and the Falmouth Working Boat Victory just a year younger. Ellen and Barnabas are both owned by the Cornish Maritime Trust which entered three of its four vessels.
Racing on Friday and Saturday was challenging for both the Race Committee and participants owing to the fickleness of the wind in both direction and speed. The Teamac sponsored race on Saturday attracted 103 entrants including Falmouth Working Boats
Crews enjoyed two shore side receptions, one hosted by Dynamite Valley Brewery on Falmouth Haven and another by the Fal River Distillery in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. They also had the opportunity to enjoy the 79 groups participating in the Shanty Festival.
The rowing and sculling competition held at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club attracted a good number of participants including crews from patrol vessels HMS Blazer and HMS Ranger and a crew member from one of the French boats. Unfortunately, the skills of the Falmouth and local entrants were too well-honed.
The Sunday morning parade of sail and power was led by the two Royal Navy Patrol Vessels. Both crews were attired in fancy dress. The guests watching the parade aboard Fal River’s M.V. Moyanna chose HMS Blazer crew as the best dressed pirates. The sailing craft were led by the brig Phoenix which looked splendid as she sailed down the St Mawes side of the Fal with her square sails filled.
The public ashore were rewarded with a second on the water spectacle when the Heather and Lay Steam and Small Boat parade got underway in the inner harbour. Sailing boats 20’ and under were joined by nine steam boats, their brass shining, that puffed and hooted their way around the course. The oldest steam boat dated back to 1899 whilst the oldest craft under sail was built in 1882 at Gorran Haven.
Vice Chairman Don Garman said “The 2023 event was a veritable spectacle on the water. The crews enjoyed sailing and parading on the Fal and in Falmouth Bay and onshore the opportunities provided by both the Classics organisers and the Shanty Festival. The fifty plus volunteers worked very hard to ensure the event ran smoothly and I would like to thank our generous sponsors and advertisers for their valued support”.
Next year’s Falmouth Classics will once again coincide with the Falmouth International Shanty Festival from 14 -16 June 2024 with boats arriving on the 13th.