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Wave of excitement building for Scilly's First Islands' Regatta

by Samantha Evamy 24 Aug 2016 20:56 BST 26-29 August 2016
Grayhound Lugger © Visit Isles of Scilly: Islands' Regatta

The Isles of Scilly are getting ready for a busier-than-usual August Bank Holiday weekend as they prepare for the first Islands' Regatta – a four-day celebration of the islands' unique maritime history.

Drawing the crowds will be a flotilla of 25 classic and traditional boats, sailing into St. Mary's from Falmouth for the event, which runs from 26 to 29 August. Visitors will also be treated to a Round the Island race, a Parade of Sail, a visit from the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, and a non-stop shoreside programme. A bill-topping aerobatic display over the archipelago by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows on the final day will conclude Scilly's biggest event of the summer.

David Jackson, Executive Director at the Islands' Partnership, says: "Often we've seen a slight dip in visitor numbers over the August Bank Holiday weekend with people tending to head back to the mainland at that time. We introduced our inaugural Islands' Regatta to keep the season going a little longer, and it has certainly worked. We've had lots of interest from visitors staying over, daytrippers and classic boat participants. We're all set for a busy weekend and a spectacular finale to the summer holidays."

Free tours of HMS Sutherland, one of only 16 Type 23 frigates to be built, will give regatta visitors the chance to get up close to the on-board equipment and weapons systems, and meet members of the ship's company.

Catching the eye among the flotilla of classic gaffs, ketches, luggers and sloops on display will be Ripple, a 120-year-old Cornish lugger of the type once commonly seen at Cornish fishing ports, the Saint-Michel II, a replica of a pilot cutter owned by the writer Jules Verne, and the Grayhound Lugger, a replica 18th-century customs lugger, built using traditional materials and methods.

Adding to the excitement will be more than 30 Redwing dinghies fresh from the finale of the 2016 Redwing Championships.

Visitors can also enjoy a non-stop shoreside programme with live music, street performers and food and craft stalls, plus ale festivals at The Mermaid on St. Mary's and the New Inn on Tresco. There will be a guided walk around Hugh Town by leading historic shipwreck expert Richard Larn OBE, and a new maritime exhibition at the Isles of Scilly Museum.

Keeping the kids entertained will be a swashbuckling pirate cruise from St. Mary's to St. Martin's on Saturday afternoon, with storytelling and colourful characters, and an island treasure hunt and barbecue at Karma St. Martin's Hotel. Shop for Theatre will pop up around the regatta with performances of poems, stories and theatre outdoors, in shops and on boats. And Scilly's annual RNLI Water Carnival takes place on Sunday afternoon, with the ever popular raft race, slippery pole antics and Dunk the Hunk, as well as the opportunity to look around the impressive Whiteheads lifeboat.

Zoe Parry, Events Manager at the Islands' Partnership, says: "We're all set to extend a warm Scillonian welcome to all the visitors and boat owners who'll be joining us for Scilly's first Islands' Regatta. We're so looking forward to this celebration of all things nautical on the islands with the stirring spectacle of 25 classic boats, an adrenaline-fuelled display by the Red Arrows and masses of maritime family fun."

Anyone sailing or flying to Scilly for the regatta can take advantage of a special 10% discount on travel, valid from 24 to 31 August. Quote MTM when making your booking with Isles of Scilly Travel.

If you and your family love the sea, then the Isles of Scilly is the place to be over the August Bank Holiday weekend. For more information, visit www.visitislesofscilly.com/islandsregatta

The Islands' Regatta is one of a series of new events on Scilly for 2016 supported by the Coastal Communities Fund. Other events include the first Taste of Scilly festival running throughout September, when Scilly raises a glass to the very best of its local food and drink.