Many tourists visit the UK for the architecture, the modern multi-cultural atmosphere and the stunning natural areas of the UK, as well as historical landmarks and great food options in London. Now a feature that is fairly undervalued when it comes to tourism is our seas. The water is cold, we should start there, and many people visiting the UK will not be tempted to jump into the dark and cold water surrounding the country. This article will show you one of the annual events that is well worth a visit, and is centered around being on the water (but not in it). I’ve previously written about sailing in Italy, which was an all together warmer affair, but it’s still a great thing to do in the UK, and makes the most of my island nation.
The Dartmouth Royal Regatta has been held in the small town (5,500 people) of Dartmouth, in the southern county of Devon, for generations. Devon is one of the homes of watersports in the UK, with a lot of surfing, sailing, kite-surfing and wind-surfing taking place there. The first event was held in 1822, and was formerly established in 1834, giving this event almost 200 years of history. In the link below you can see some of the historical photos of the event over the years.
Whilst this is a social, charitable and fun event, it’s also a pretty serious sailing competition. Every possible type of yacht, dingy and sailboat competes in several races in different categories, with thousands of people watching. It’s not an easy thing to sail with one of the teams, but there are plenty of competitions that are just for fun, so if you have some sailing experience it’s possible you could get in contact with some of the teams who might need some extra bodies and ballast.
If you’ve never sailed a yacht before, then racing might not exactly be for you. The truth is yacht racing is a combination of excitement and boredom and confusion, in relatively equal quantities. The exciting bits, with your sleek yacht racing alongside another yacht with both boats pulled to one side by strong winds is incredible. The long drifts as you wait for a good wind direction or the right time to turn can be boring I’ll admit, as apart from pulling ropes there isn’t too much else to do (but the scenery and atmosphere is still great). The confusion comes when an experienced sailor tells you to “prepare to loosen the vang when we beam reach after the next jibe” – and you feel panic set in as precisely none of those words give you any indication as to what he might want you to do.
The truth is yacht racing is a combination of excitement and boredom and confusion
It’s often known as simply ‘Dartmouth’, but the Britannia Royal Naval Collage that sits on the top of the hill overlooking the River Dart, where much of the sailing takes place, is at the heart of the event. Obviously the Royal Navy has a strong history of sailing and naval excellence, and so it makes sense. There is also normally an air show performed by the RAF (Royal Air Force) that is incredible. If you’ve never seen a Harrier jet take off vertically from a warship and then blast around the skies above you, shaking the 120 year old naval collage with the shockingly loud sound waves, you’ll be in for a good time.
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