Over 200 Old Gaffers head to Cowes to celebrate Jubilee Festival

240 Gaffers will be in Cowes between now and Sunday as part of the Old Gaffers Association’s jubilee celebrations

Old Gaffers

Thanks to Suzanne and Alan for this sailing news. Ed

Between 15-18 August Cowes will welcome some 240 ‘Gaffers’ to celebrate the Old Gaffers Association’s Jubilee Festival. In the main, entrants are based in the Solent and East Coast areas.

In addition, there are visitors from France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Other groups exist in Canada and Australia.

Old Gaffers Association
Old Gaffers Association (OGA) is the association of Gaff Rig Sailing and is celebrating 50 years in existence this year. Over the years several of these boats have visited Yarmouth for the Old Gaffers Festival but this is a special year for this class of boat and to get so many together in Cowes is a great feat for the organisers.

In 1959 three men met in a pub on the Hamble and formed a small group and called it Old Gaffers. Meanwhile a group of East Coast enthusiasts were forming a similar club. Eventually on 14th September 1963 the OGA was founded in Maldon.

Jubilee year activities
In their Jubilee year a Round Britain Challenge pilgrimage has been underway. Gaff rig owners could participate in parts of this event or undertake the whole circumnavigation. As it was 21 entries, including 8 Dutch vessels, opted for the latter option.

For the Round Britain Challenge the OGA and the RNLI have supported each other to stress the importance of safety and good seamanship. At the end of the year the OGA will present a cheque to the RNLI at its Poole HQ.

A French section of the OGA was founded in 1968 and some 15 Gallic vessels made their way across the English Channel. Their flotilla was led by their President Madame Yannie Cariguel. She was aboard ‘Etoile Molene’ a two masted schooner and an ex tuna fishing boat from St. Malo.

Who you can see
Amongst the boats on view are: ‘Emanuel’ a gaff cutter, which was built in Penarth in 1928. A pair of pilot cutters ‘Amelie Rose’ and ‘Tallulah’ are based on Isles of Scilly and Bristol Channel pilot cutter designs. ‘Pioneer’ is an Essex Smack based in Colchester.

‘Alice’ is a Thames barge with traditional brown sails and from Rochester. Hard to categorise is ‘Molly’ a whaling boat built in Massachusetts and belonging to Henley Whalers Rowing Club. Traditionally she required 5 rowers but they use ten!

Participants gathered in Cowes on Thursday and received a courtesy visit from Cowes Inshore Lifeboat in the late afternoon followed by fundraising events for the RNLI in the evening and a welcome from the OGA’s President.

Friday sees the East Coast Regatta Day sponsored by Teamac and super Saturday Race Day is sponsored by ABP. This event aims to set a new record for the largest number of racing gaffers (130). A short Parade of sail will follow the racing on Saturday. Members of the public can view the boats moored in Cowes Yacht Haven and at Shepards Wharf as well as watch the Parade of sail which is planned to be sailed off Egypt Point.

Friday, 16th August, 2013 10:32am


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John M Luckett

What a magnificent site it was too – watched start from East Cowes Esplanade – when will we see the like again?

Had been for an early morning fishing trip out in my own boat just prior and was maddened that I left my camera at home :(