“Falmouth Classics,” now in its 35th year, has been held in the waters around Falmouth each year since 1987 (except for 2020 when the event was cancelled owing to Covid 19), but for several years until 2013 it had become a single race, normally taking place at the beginning of Falmouth Week.
In 2013 it was re-launched in mid-June as a three day “Falmouth Classics Regatta” to coincide with the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival. The synergy of Classic Boats and Sea Shanties produces an event which provides an ideal opportunity to bring the Town and the Sailing scene closer together.
Falmouth is recognised as having some of the best sailing waters in the world, with many vantage points to view the events, which take place in the Carrick Roads and Falmouth Bay. Over the last few years the Town and it’s yacht/sailing clubs have hosted many major events, such as the ”J” Class Regatta, Finn Gold Cup, Pendennis Cup, and the 2014 Tall Ships Regatta, the beginning of the Golden Globe event in 2018 as well as the start and finish of the 2019 AZAB (Azores and Back Race) and many other National and International meetings.
In 2014 Falmouth Classics introduced free berthing for visiting boats during the event on a dedicated section of the Harbour Authority’s Falmouth Haven Pontoons in the centre of Falmouth. This was followed in 2015 with the addition of an informal pre-event get together on the Haven.
The 30th anniversary coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Falmouth Lifeboat. The 2017 event attracted 212 entrants of which 114 entered for racing and the parade included several splendidly turned – out vintage lifeboats. New introductions for the 30th year were a Maritime Village on Custom House Quay, a rowing and sculling competition and access for the public on the pontoons.
In 2021 Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) took up the role of title sponsor in their 150th year and the anniversary were marked by including a flotilla as part of the FHC craft and sailing vessels representing pilot cutters, a gig, working boats and two vessels built in Falmouth in the early 20th century as part of the parade The attire of parading crews represented the late 19th century. Modifications to the normal programme owing to the Covid pandemic were required. The small boat parade maritime village and rowing and sculling competition were not included and receptions and prize giving had to be modified. The G7 happened at the same time and created some additional challenges. Despite the challenges of the time and no International Shanty Festival the event attracted 153 vessels.
Three days of enjoyable racing and a spectacular Parade of Classics Boats and the Small Classic Boat Parade (introduced in 2016) attract extensive public viewing and media coverage. The demand from competitors is for a Rally as well as Races, and, from the public and media, for a spectacle that will draw in a wide audience. Falmouth Classics fulfils those aims, and fosters the unique camaraderie that exists among Classic Boat owners.
A new development in 2021 was a West Country Classics series where race results from Falmouth, Dartmouth and Fowey Classic regattas were combined to identify overall winners, with a late Autumn prizegiving.
The organisers look forward to the 35th year being much closer to normal with all the usual activities both on and off the water together with a shanty festival.