The Falmouth Sunbeam owners have celebrated the centenary of these wonderful yachts that grace our harbour with a get together at the Athenaeum Club in Kimberley Place, which 100 years ago was called Penvale.

On September 28, 1923, the Falmouth Packet contained a report of a meeting held two days previously in the house “Penvale” in Kimberley Place to establish a new one-design racing class as an alternative to generally unsatisfactory menagerie racing common at that time.

The new class was to be known as the Falmouth Sunbeams, these boats being similar to the Solent Sunbeams built by Woodnutt at St Helen’s on the Isle of Wight.

It was decided to form a club to manage the affairs of this class, with headquarters at “Penvale”. C P Foster Esq (the owner of “Penvale”) was elected chairman and Captain H L Willcox RN, honorary secretary.

It was also agreed that all orders for Falmouth Sunbeams be placed through the club. Commitments were made to place five (subsequently increased to eight) orders for delivery in 1924.

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A century later the Sunbeams remain an established one-design racing class in Falmouth, now numbering 26 boats. The club was not available on the anniversary of the first meeting but the 25th was free so some current members of the association, associate members, honorary life members, previous owners and guests gathered there to celebrate the centenary.

During the evening the association presented the club with a framed photograph of eight Sunbeams racing in the harbour in the 1920s. Three of the original boats are still in the port: number 14 (Halcyone, now number 38), 18 (Una now Polly) and 21 (Maranui) whose first owner was C P Foster. Maranui has the distinction of being the only one of the original boats to have remained in Falmouth throughout her life, others having migrated to the Solent and back again.

In 1956 Maranui’s then owner Andrew Farrant was killed when his yacht was blown over in a gust of wind whilst he was scrubbing the bottom, having temporarily removed the leeward leg.

Number 17 was originally owned by the renowned Falmouth artist H S Tuke.

Flushing Sailing Club has the distinction of holding the first race on Saturday, May 31, 1924 after racing at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club on the preceding Wednesday afternoon was cancelled because of bad weather.

Next year the class will celebrate a century of Sunbeam racing in Falmouth. A week of activities is being planned, to take place shortly before Falmouth Sailing Week in the expectation that Solent Sunbeams will visit for both events.