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Ocean Safety 2023 - New Identity - LEADERBOARD

2024 Falmouth Classics

by Don Garman 21 Jun 10:13 UTC 14-16 June 2024
Preparing to start in Race 1 during Falmouth Classics 2024 © Ian Symonds

The Falmouth Classics, one of the largest classic sailing events in the UK which ran from the 14 -16th June, welcomed 174 entries.

Vessels ranged from current and vintage lifeboats, included to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the RNLI, to Bermudan and gaff rigged vessels dating back to 1884. Apart from a large fleet of local boats, a good proportion came from ports as far up the English coast as West Mersea in Essex as well as from Germany and France.

Strong winds over 30 knots were forecast for arrival day on Thursday, therefore many vessels arrived the previous day. The volunteer berthing crew, reporting for duty on Thursday morning, found that there were already over half of the expected vessels already moored in Falmouth Haven and Port Pendennis! Vessels continued to arrive in the constant rain and wind. Organisers considered a plan B for the evening reception in the marina but having studied several forecasts decided to go ahead. Half an hour before the event the rain stopped and the sky began to clear!

The Friday race day was showing westerly winds gusting up to Force 6. Over 100 vessels were entered to race but numbers were below this for the first race. Many of the vessels in the 14 classes were reefed. The race officer set a short course for the race to ensure all vessels were ready for a longer race in the afternoon. Good racing in gusty conditions was enjoyed by all classes including the Salcombe Yawl feet of eleven craft. The wind was less gusty in the afternoon at the start of race two and several boats hoisted full sail. By now the fleet had been reduced to 67. The pilot cutters and large Bermudans course took them out into Falmouth Bay, whilst the other classes sailed in the Carrick Roads. A 1934 Harrison Butler reported a broken mast and this event was followed by a squall with 40 knot plus winds, heavy rain and poor visibility. Victory the 1884 Falmouth Working boat was caught by the strong winds with sails cleated whilst tacking and heeled filing with water. Three open boats were also in difficulties and the Race Officer issued an "Abandoned Race" notice. Meanwhile the four safety boats, provided by local clubs, were very busy recovering crews and boats. They were soon assisted by the Coastguard helicopter, the RNLI and harbour vessels. No one was injured but some vessels experience damaged to spars. Victory was refloated on Saturday. She had come second in her class in the morning race.

Paul Hobson, Chairman of the Falmouth Classics Association said "The response from the classics safety team, H.M. Coastguard, the Harbour staff and RNLI in difficult conditions on the water was excellent.

"Situations like this, whilst rare, can happen very quickly and the team's response was to their credit."

On Friday evening crews enjoyed a reception in the Falmouth Art Gallery and Council Chamber and viewed the splendid exhibition by local artist Jamie Medlin who was in attendance.

Vessels sailing in the Saturday race, sponsored by Teamac, experienced winds up to the top of force 5. Gusts were much less violent than the day before. All but two boats were reefed and some classes were either not represented or had small numbers. Following the completion of racing an enjoyable but competitive rowing and sculling event took place at Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. Three officers from HMS Mersey, together with the regional marketing manager from Teamac, presented the day prizes. A Hog Roast supper followed with music provided by the excellent Jumping Out jazz trio.

Winds up to force four from the south west greeted the parade of power and sail on Sunday morning which, was led by the two current Falmouth lifeboats and six vintage lifeboats, the latter represented developments in design from 1938 to the 1980s. The 1907 south west trading ketch Irene of Bridgwater led the fleet of sailing craft which were then followed by powered craft and gigs including, Royal, the Truro River Gig Club's vessel under sail. Several crews had dressed according to the theme Rescued and Rescuers. Looking south during parade the Carrick Roads was filled with tan, cream and white gaff and Bermudan sails.

The Heather and Lay steam and small boat parade got under way in the early afternoon with the six steam boats challenging the shanty band on the nearby stage with their whistles! The final event for the 2024 Classics was prize-giving in the National Maritime Museum in the reorganised and atmospheric boat hall.

A participant said "Thank you for organising a lovely weekend in difficult circumstances. We will be back!"

The 2024 event was supported by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, Teamac and the West Briton who were partner sponsors as well as several major and event sponsors, several of whom have been very loyal to the Classics for over a number of years.

The 2025 event will take place from 13 -15 June with arrival of boats on the Thursday. Once again Classics will coincide with the Falmouth International Shanty Festival.

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