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Port of Falmouth Sailing Association

Point & Penpoll Regatta

Point and Penpoll held its centenary regatta in 1993, and although 1893 has been accepted as the nominal start of the annual regattas, when it adopted the name Point and Penpoll, earlier annual regattas based on Devoran Creek and called the Devoran, Point and Perranwharf Regatta been taking place since at least the 1850s.

Of the regatta in 1874 it was reported that

The prizes were paid in the evening in the engine room at Devoran which the committee considered a far more preferable place than the public house and when all the prizes had been paid and expenses allowed for it was found that a balance of £3 remained and it was unanimously resolved should form the nucleus of a fund for carrying out another regatta next year the expression of hope that the sport would be annual being received with enthusiasm.

By 1883 the regatta was very firmly established and the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported

It cannot be expected that the annual regatta at Devoran will compare in many particulars with the regattas held at large ports but it may be truthfully stated that no regatta in the county is so largely looked forward to by the people in the neighbourhood as is Devoran Regatta. Thousands of persons lined the quays and banks of the river on either side and there were hundreds of spectators in steamers, boats and craft of every kind from Truro, Falmouth, St Mawes and other places.”

As part of the centenary celebration of the Point & Penpoll Regatta, the Restronguet Creek Society newsletter of 1993 provided accounts of recent regattas. The bulk of the following extracts are available from the Feock Parish Council's website. The original newsletter is still available and may be found here. It is especially interesting since it has some photographs of earlier regattas.

Even before 1893 there was at least one regatta held here, as the West Briton for July 19th 1870 shows, “An interesting regatta took place on Thursday in Restronguet Creek, the general interest in the affair being enhanced by the fact that the prizes were contributed by the mass of the villagers.” It was held from “the quay attached to the large smelting works carried on by Messrs. Robert Michell and Sons.”

This report gives details of two of the races, first for 16 foot and then for 14 foot boats, which “proved a very pretty one, the little craft going through the water under an extraordinary pressure of canvas at great speed”. This race was won convincingly by William Harris of Trolver in his boat of that name. Particular mention was made of “some yachts belonging to gentlemen in the vicinity of Point,” which included Humphrey Broad Champion's “splendidly lined dandy.”

Exciting though this may be it is less extrovert than the entertainments that accompanied the regattas between and immediately after the wars. Then the Cornish sheaf-pitching championships were fought out, greasy poles were climbed, or not as the case might be, feathers flew while people, balancing on a narrow pole, bashed each other with pillows. Stalls, or Stennens, were set up lit by kerosene lamps, which sold sweets “better tasting than in the shops,” as Iris Dunstan recalls. A carnival parade was held when ingenuity was tested to the full. Motor vehicles were adorned, and bicycles decorated: Hazel Searle (Mrs. Michell) won first prize for her cycle in 1922, Marion Chegwyn won the fancy dress costume as ‘Our Allotment,’ Harry Crocker and Dan Hitchens gained the prize for humour as ‘Uncle Joe and Aunt Sally,’ and Reg Crocker's ‘Onion Boy’ won him a children’s prize. The day was finally rounded off by dancing on the lawn of Penpol House to the music of the band of the training ship Foudroyant.
Editor's note: TS Foudroyant spent some time locally: an undated photograph in the Tate archive shows it alongside the Cutty Sark. Unfortunately the photograph is undated, but Cutty Sark was anchored at Falmouth from 1923 to 1938. The photograph formed part of a donation of the personal papers of local artists Thomas Cooper Gotch and Henry Scott Tuke. Source . Foudroyant was in Falmouth in 1922, as another report indicates.

Viv Acton ©Restronguet Creek Society, 1993

The early ‘50s saw the 14ft clinker dinghies with their red sails, the Redwings, originally designed and built specially for Looe S.C., competing at regattas. Local helmsmen included Roy Hovell with Bosun Bird, Pete Langdon with Nimbus, George Tinley with Flare, Richard and Rodney Parrot with Firecrest, the late Mrs Stephens from Weir with Winchat, Ned Farquhar with Albatross and Peggy Visick with Sabre.

Cruisers also competed. Reg Langdon sailed Tommy Thrush with much success, the Visicks sailed the Tumlare* Diane and the late Mr J.Ashtead (a past Chairman of the Regatta Committee) also sailed a Tumlare. The Sunbeam class have long graced the creek on regatta days as have the local St Mawes One Designs.

*There were also some Tumlares over in St Mawes. The design was much praised by Uffa Fox.

New building techniques developed during the war led to the building of hot-moulded wooden boats. One of the first owned on the creek was the airborne lifeboat belonging to Bob Wright. She could often be seen of an evening working up or down the creek with her orange sails. The Firefly class and others like the Albacore, Swordfish, Jollyboat, Flying Fifteen and 505 soon followed. The Fireflies were designed by Uffa Fox as the singlehanded boat for the 1948 Olympic Sailing held at Torbay, Peter Langdon has raced Fireflies since the ‘50s and hopes to be racing again this year. The Flying Fifteen, another Uffa Fox design, became popular on the creek, Louis Pascoe building one of the first. John Paulding, Cyril Harber and Don Thomas were others who kept their Fifteens moored in the ‘Gut”.

Charles Warren ©Restronguet Creek Society, 1993

To these reminisences can be added a report of a 1922 regatta:

Pretty River Festival

Penpol and Point Regatta and Carnival

Brilliant summer sunshine and a moderate North wind greatly enhanced the success of the Penpol and Point regatta, held on Saturday. Large numbers of spectators gathered on the shore of the picturesque little creek, and even more assembled for the land sports and carnival in the evening. The entries were comparatively good, particularly in the sailing classes, in which competition was keen. There were 14 events, among which the race for the gigs of the Foudroyant, Falmouth, manned by the crew of the training ship, and a gig and punt chase, in which these boats also participated, were especially fine.

The gig and punt chase was particularly amusing.

The band of the Foudroyant, Falmouth, rendered appropriate selections and provided the dance music in the evening. After tea, a programme of children's races was carried out, and an excellent carnival was held.

The regatta was concluded by a dance on the lawn of Penpoll House, lent by Mrs D'Oliveyra.
(Mr L D'Oliverya was the president and chairman of the organising committtee)

West Briton 1922

Shoreside

Shoreside

TS Foudroyant

TS Foudroyant

Penpoll House today

Penpoll House

…at the bottom of the garden

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