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Online entry opens for the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at UYC

by Sue Giles 25 Apr 16:16 BST 6-7 July 2019
Birkett 2018 © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

This year it could be you... the iconic Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy is being held over the weekend of July 6 and 7 at Ullswater Yacht Club.

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 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 sadly died shortly afterwards and the race has been held annually in honour of the 'Saviour of Ullswater'.

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 6, and 11am on Sunday, July 7, 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 the website, www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk

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.

Entries for the 57th Birkett are online only through the SailRacer website. Competitors are urged to enter early as the event, with a limit of 230 boats, is so popular it is always oversubscribed. The closing date is Sunday, June 23 at 9pm. The link is enter.sailracer.org/events/event-v2.asp?eventid=214205

For more information about the Birkett visit the UYC website, www.ullswateryachtclub.org or email

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