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Entries open for 2018 Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club

by Sue Giles 29 Apr 18:54 BST 7-8 July 2018
Passengers on the steamer watch the Birkett start © Sue Giles

This year it could be you... entries are now open for the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy over the weekend of July 7 and 8 at Ullswater Yacht Club which this year is celebrating its 60th Anniversary.

The quest for the 'Holy Grail' of a Birkett win attracts keen sailors from national champions to novices from all over the country in a wide range of different boats all racing the full length of Ullswater and back on both days. The winner will not only take home the sought-after Birkett silver salver but also get to spend a night at the luxury hotel, the Sharrow Bay. The club's next door neighbour, the prestigious Sharrow Bay country house hotel has generously offered a prize for the winner – bed and breakfast for two.

The 2018 Birkett is extra special as it takes place in the club's Diamond Jubilee year and is the first to be held since the Lake District was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique annual race was established in 1963 in memory of Lord Norman Birkett who successfully defended the right of public access to Ullswater which was threatened with reservoir status in the early 1960s. He spoke in the House of Lords in 1962 of the importance of retaining Ullswater's natural beauty for all, but died shortly afterwards and the race has been held annually in his honour.

One of the most spectacular sailing events in the country, the Birkett is open to all monohulls with a recognised handicap rating below 1340. All boats set off from one mass start with the line stretching across the full width of the lake. They race down the lake, a distance of about seven miles, past Kailpot Crag and the plaque to the memory of Lord Birkett, round an island at the southern end, and back. Then they do it all again on Sunday – with both races to count. The boats make a spectacular sight on the lake and the event, which starts at 1pm on Saturday, July 7, and 11am on Sunday, July 8, attracts spectators at vantage points all along the shore.

A traditional feature of the event is the Saturday Birkett Trophy Cruise run by Ullswater Steamers. The three hour cruise will leave Pooley Bridge pier at 12.30pm and follow the racing down to Kailpot Crag past the Lord Birkett memorial plaque and will have an on-board commentary from members of UYC. Families and friends can follow the racing at close hand on the water and experience some of the excitement. Please book direct with Ullswater Steamers via their website.

The event has become a Festival of Sailing with the 'Birkett field' next to the club in use for camping and campervans and for the popular hospitality marquee where there will be live music over the weekend.

"The Birkett has become a legendary race and we are delighted that every year it attracts entries from all over the country," said UYC Commodore Rick Boyce. "Now that the Lake District is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site it is even more important that we celebrate what Lord Birkett did to save the lake for the people. As this year is our Diamond Jubilee Year at the club we are hoping for a truly 'diamond' Birkett."

Competitors can enter the 56th Birkett online through the SailRacer website. The entry limit is 230 and entries close on June 21 with no entries accepted after that date. Competitors are urged to enter early as the event is so popular it is always oversubscribed.

To enter see enter.sailracer.org/events/enter-v2rya.asp?eventid=211652

UYC is on the North-east shore of the lake about two miles from Pooley Bridge on the Howtown road. For more information about the Birkett visit the UYC website or email

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