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2024 Falmouth Classics Preview

by Don Garman 27 May 13:37 BST 14-16 June 2024
Marian – one the two oldest pilot cutters still afloat © Nic Compton

Classic sailing event is set to welcome a variety of craft from well beyond Cornwall

The 2024 Falmouth Classics fleet continues to grow in numbers as the 14 -16 June draws close. The three races and two parades will include vessels from ports and harbours from the Fal to the River Blackwater in Essex, together with some very welcome entries from France.

The event is attracting a variety of beautiful and varied sailing craft including pilot cutters, the distinctive Falmouth working boats, other ex-working craft, classic Bermudan and gaff rigged racers and cruisers together with open boats and sailing gigs. Many having been built before 1950. The fleet, both when moored and sailing, will create a spectacle of times past and a cloud of white, cream and tan sails will fill the Carrick Roads both on race and parade days The parade of sail and power will include eight vintage lifeboats as well as the two current Falmouth lifeboats to mark the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. Other powered vessels will be led by the pilot vessel L.K. Mitchell, soon to retire from active service in the port and steam boats are expected to join the sail and oar powered craft in the small boat parade.

The distinctive Grand LeJon, a replica fishing lugger built between 1988 and 1992 will be joining the festival from the Bay of St Brieuc, Brittany, sailed by a crew who are members of the association that looks after the vessel. Shiela, a gaff rigged 6 metre designed by Starling Burgess and built in the USA by Herreshoff was part of the USA 6 metre fleet that competed in the UK in 1921. Her crew returned to the USA but she remained and will be competing in her first Falmouth Classics. Lilian, built in 1900, and currently based at West Mersea in Essex will be competing with other open boats in the three races in the Carrick Roads. She was built in Brightlingsea to takes cargoes of sprats ashore from the stowboating smacks. The oldest boat to enter to date is the 1889 Bristol Pilot Cutter, Marian, one of eighteen original pilot cutters still afloat, she was built in Cardiff. Two of her sister pilot cutters have also entered together with three replicas.

Boats participating in the three races will have no difficulty in identifying the committee boat which will be Irene of Bridgwater a West Country Trading Ketch built in 1907 to carry bricks and other cargoes. Owned by the Morrish family, she is this year on loan to Turn to Starboard an armed services charity. Irene will also be leading the sailing craft in the Parade of Sail and Power.

In addition to trophies and glassware, great prizes await the winners of the three races provided by Teamac, Noble Masts and Mustos, whilst parade winners will enjoy a bottle of Hattiers rum.

On shore the Falmouth International Shanty Festival will also be under way over the three days with eighty groups, the largest number ever. Performing in pubs, clubs and spaces around the town.

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