Falmouth Classics, one of the largest classic sailing events in the UK and now in its 37th year, is being hosted in the port from this Thursday until Sunday. 

A total of 78 boats from ports along the south and east coast as far as West Mersea in Essex, and some from France, will be arriving to be berthed in Falmouth Haven, on moorings, at anchor or in Port Pendennis from 11am on Thursday.

On Friday and Saturday the visiting craft will be joined by local boats and the fleet will swell to around a hundred racing in fourteen classes in the Carrick Roads and Falmouth Bay.

The Parade of Power and Sail on Sunday morning, with around 150 vessels, will be one of the largest, probably the largest, parade of classic boats in the UK this year. The small boat parade in the inner harbour later in the day will include steam-powered craft.

Lilian Lilian (Image: Rosie Farthing)

Both parades will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. The morning parade will include the current Falmouth Lifeboats and eight vintage ones. Both parades will see some crews in the 2024 fancy dress theme of “Rescuers and Rescued”.

Participating boats date from the 1880s to the year 2020. Those built more recently than 1974 have been built traditionally or are gaff or lug-rigged.

A good number of craft were originally built for fishing or trade whilst others were built for cruising and racing.The fleet will bring over 500 crew to the town who will enjoy the shoreside receptions and of course the Falmouth International Shanty Festival.

The organisation and management of the event will see the volunteer organising team of fourteen grow to over fifty to ensure the event runs smoothly and is enjoyed by all.

To encourage competition there will be great prizes for the racers provided by the Hull-based paint manufacturer Teamac, who will be sponsoring the Saturday race, Mustos and Noble Masts. Parade participants will be competing for bottles of Hattiers Rum.

What’s On?

Thursday 13 June – 78 boats arrive to be berthed in Falmouth Haven, Port Pendennis Marina, on moorings or at anchor.

Friday 14 June – Race One – the first start in the Carrick Roads will take place at 11.30am. Race 2 the first start will be at 2pm. The larger vessels, dependent on wind strength are likely to have a course that takes them out into Falmouth Bay for both races.

Maritime Village opens on Custom House Quay and North Quay at 10am and will run until Sunday.

Try a gin, speak to the Royal Navy, buy a boat, purchase marine-related crafts and clothing, materials for traditional boat maintenance or learn about the marine environment.

Saturday 15 June - The Teamac-sponsored Race for all 14 classes will have the first start at 11.30am.

Public on the Pontoon – members of the public will be able to get up close to the boats on Falmouth Haven from 9am to 10.30am, and again from 4pm to 6pm. 

Entry at the bottom of Quay Street is free but donations to the RNLI will be welcome.

Rowing and Sculling competition – 4pm to 6pm for all comers at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club - free entry to all comers. Bring your own boat or borrow one kindly provided by the Falmouth training ship Hardiesse

Sunday 16 June

A Parade of Sail and Power – boats will gather off Trefusis Point and following the Pendennis gun will at 10.30am sail south led by the Falmouth lifeboats and eight vintage lifeboats.

The sailing craft will be led by Irene of Bridgewater, and the 1907 west country trading ketch and powered craft will be led by the retiring pilot boat LK Mitchell.

Maybe spot the sailing gig at Royal. The fleet will turn joust to the south of Black Rock and sail north along the St Mawes shore.

If there is a strong swell the parade will turn north on Black Rock. Watchers on Pendennis Point will also be entertained by the shanty band “Short Drag Roger”.

Small Boat Parade in the Inner Harbour – this will begin at 1.30pm and the fleet will include steamboats. There will be a commentary from Custom House Quay. Good places to view are from Custom House Quay and North Quay.

Boats to look out for

Lilian – a gaff-rigged open boat built in 1900 at Brightlingsea in Essex to carry sprats ashore from the larger fishing smacks

Pilgrim of Brixham - a trawler built in Brixham in 1895 and carrying the sail number BM 45 she fished until 1912 when she was sold and went to Scandinavia. Pilgrim is now charity-owned and operated.

Shiela – a gaff-rigged 6m designed in the USA by Starling Burgess and built by Herreshoff. She was brought to the UK in 1922 as part of the USA team and remained. She carries USA 4 on her sail.

Pellew -the largest replica pilot cutter built in recent times and launched at Newham in Truro in 2020. Built traditionally and based on the lines of the longest serving sailing Falmouth Pilot Cutter “Arrow” and named after Admiral Pellew who hailed from Flushing.

Amokura - Amokura is a 50 foot (15.3m) classic yawl. She was built in 1939 for Major (later Sir Ernest) Harston, Aide-De-Camp to Lord Mountbatten.