Heavy rain and a howling wind welcomed twenty-eight skippers, crews and supporters to the West Country Classics Series prizegiving at Saltash Sailing Club on November 26th. The series, now in its second year, was established to encourage participation in Dartmouth, Falmouth and Fowey Classics. To be eligible for the series, vessels need to be 5.5metres (18’) or more, must meet the eligibility criteria of the events they enter and participate in races in at least two of the events. Twelve vessels qualified for the series in 2022, with one having done all three classic events.
This year the series was generously sponsored by Butler and Co Traditional Wooden Boats of Penpol with a hamper of rum supplied by Hattiers. All twelve vessels were awarded a commemorative flag. Prizes were awarded by Kaye Price, a Falmouth Classics Race Officer, who has been fulfilling this role since 2013.
The top five included three traditionally rigged vessel all built before 1950. In fifth place the oldest and the only ex working boat was “Our Boys”, a Looe lugger built in 1804 for drift fishing by the Pengelly family. Two Bermudan rigged vessels were in fourth and third place, “Lulotte”, a 1976 Swan 55, and “Sarabande of Dart”, a Nicholson 43, launched in 1972 and once owned by the Shand – Kydd family. In second place was the gaff cutter “Ayesha” built in 1922 for the owner of the Aldous Yard in Brightlingsea, Essex and in first place was last year’s winner “Cynthia” who, this time, had raced in all three events.
“Cynthia”, with her gaff cutter rig, was built in Falmouth in 1910 by Thomas Jacket for a Mrs Foster who was a member of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. She left Falmouth in 1927 and was thought to have returned for the first time in 2021. Placed second to Ayesha in Falmouth Classics she was fifth in the Dartmouth Classics and equal first in Fowey Classics. Winning for a second time was a close-run thing with a fraction of a point separating the first two vessels.
The West Country Classic Series (www.westcountryclassics.org) in 2023 will be sponsored by Devon based Hattiers Rum and the first event will be Falmouth Classics 16th – 17th June followed by Dartmouth Classics 24th – 25th June and Fowey Classics from 26th – 29th July. The organisers look forward to even more vessels qualifying for the series in future years.