Suffolk Yacht Harbour held their 14th Classic Regatta this year in June. Impressed by its growing popularity, we filmed the event – a fantastic two-day regatta, yet to be discovered by other classic yachtsmen who seek well-run, UK regattas with tranquil atmospheres...
Based from a village called Levington, which is nestled on the North bank of the river Orwell, 'Suffolk Yacht Harbour' is a charming location. By nature of its close proximity to the North Sea, this marina is a popular stop over for yachts sailing from mainland Europe, yachts circumnavigating Britain and beyond. We found SYH is home to 550 yacht berths, attracting a mix of international, national and native sailors who give the place a great vibe. With easy access to Ipswich, Felixstowe, Harwich, the Suffolk countryside and local river Deben, there's a range of places to discover on and off the water. Annually though, there's a brilliant regatta run by the marina, the 'Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classic Regatta' that has grown since its infancy and now boasts 50+ entries a year.
Yachts muster at Suffolk Yacht Harbour for the Classic Regatta on a Friday, ready for the weekend's events. With SYH's 75 tonne travel hoist there's help on hand getting boat craned in and alongside berths, those that sail from afar are duly accommodated upon arrival. Jonathan Dyke, the Managing Director of SYH and regatta organiser, together with the race committee (Haven Ports) aim to run two races on the Saturday with a longer race on Sunday.
Racing is held in the historic waters off Harwich Harbour, once a great spot to watch the "Big Class" racing in the 1930's. Harwich Harbour overlooks the even more impressive Port of Felixstowe which proved surprisingly clear, allowing the start line to be set slightly inshore before yachts were to race out to sea.
As you'll see from the video, the Stella class is 10 boats strong, with a slow handicap featuring Kim Holman designs, a Five Tonne, a 40 Square Metre, a Buchanan Sloop, a 6 Meter and gaff cutters – 16 entries in total. The fast handicap fleet this year saw 17 entries. 'Gulvain' a Laurent Giles sloop, S&S designed yachts, West Solent Restricted Class Yachts - five in total, Richard Matthew's Fife designed gaff cutter 'Kismet' and an International One Design.
A shore, after Saturday's racing SYH's vintage Lighthouse that's moored alongside in the marina opens for people needing drinks and bar food. Boy did we need it! This year the Lighthouse saw some 300 soggy sailors who'd been thoroughly soaked by the torrential rain upon their return from two brilliant races down river. Thankfully the rain stopped, allowing a fabulous dusk to unfold.
Evenings are magical here, the various carefully designed marina buildings are soaked in a warm auburn light as the sun sets. The perfect end of an all-weather day allowing sailors to bask in the last of the sun to talk about their two very pleasant races and tremendous wet sail back! Later, a supper and band, laid on by SYH, kept helms and crew well entertained into a starry night...
Any glitches on the water are solved with the extended facilities SYH has to offer if needed. From the large and well-equiped chandlery. to the One Sails loft and boatyard services including GRP repairs, marine electricians, riggers and shipwrights on site – there can't be too much SYH can't fix. Certainly after Sunday's long breezy race there were some services deployed to keep this fleet of beautiful classics in good shape.
2015's Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classic Regatta was a super friendly regatta for likeminded yachtsmen and their friends and families. Run by Jonathan Dyke, a like-minded sailor and boat builder himself; there is a genuinely fun regatta in the offing that people are jotting down for next year.
More information can be found on the Suffolk Yacht Harbour website: http://www.syharbour.co.uk/