By Dee Burn
Early on a beautiful bright day at the end of August, I headed to Falmouth with my mum and my husband to witness one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the modern sailing world: the Tall Ships Regatta. This opportunity was pure serendipity. I was in my native Cornwall that weekend for another reason entirely – to play in an annual Euchre tournament with friends from school (Euchre is a trick-taking card game that is popular in the county) – and the weekend just happened to coincide with the start of this spectacular race. 2014 marked the fifth time the town, famous for its natural harbour which is one of the largest in the world, has hosted the tall ships since they first visited in 1966.
The atmosphere that greeted us when we arrived in Falmouth was tremendous. Crowds wandered the narrow bunting-lined streets, peering into the dressed-up shop windows, to the sound of a band and choir performing sea shanties. In the harbour, the tall ships, moored up between yachts, were gradually beginning to move away from the jetties that had been their home for the past several days.
We turned our backs on the ships and the harbour and walked across the town, heading back towards the car, to a viewing point above the beach of Falmouth Bay. When we rounded the hill and the planting gave way to afford a glimpse of the bay, we were stunned at the view of 44 sailing vessels led by the colossal 110-metre tall ship Dar Mlodziezy and accompanied by a flotilla of hundreds of yachts, gigs and other boats. The entire bay was full of vessels of all sizes, apparently Falmouth’s largest flotilla in living memory; the sight was truly magnificent. The parade led the boats to the start of their race to Greenwich, where they completed their fixtures for 2014 with 5 days of festivities.
If you have the chance to view the Tall Ships Regatta – it will next be held in Belfast in July 2015 – I heartily recommend it. The pictures I captured of the day don’t really do the event justice but I hope they can at least help you imagine what an extraordinary and un-missable sight this event truly is.
Dee Burn is head of marketing and communications at the School of Advanced Study. The Tall Ships Regatta also visited Greenwich as described in our previous post Hoist the main sail! Tall Ships head for Greenwich festival. For more details about these events check out the Falmouth Tall Ship Regatta website and the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships festival pages.