Point and Penpoll Regatta past and present
Point and Penpoll held its centenary regatta in 1993, and although 1893 has been accepted as the nominal start of the annual regattas, records show at least one previous regatta was held in 1870. The West Briton report of 19th July 1870 commented; “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 villagers”. As is still the case, it was held from “the quay attached to the large smelting works carried on by Messrs. Robert Mitchell and Sons”.
Boats racing at Point Regatta
The Restronguet Creek Society newsletter of 1993 provided accounts of recent regattas at Point and Penpoll and is set out below. They were written by Viv Acton and Charles Warren, the Chairman of the Regatta Committee.
POINT & PENPOL CENTENARY REGATTA 1893-1993
This year, Point & Penpol Regatta reaches its centenary. The 1993 Regatta (19th-21st June) will celebrate the occasion with extra events including an exhibition of old photographs of the area, a visit by a steam engine and organ, a concert by the Truro City Band and a service on Point Quay.
Since at least the 1850s there has been an annual regatta on Devoran Creek. In the early days it was based on Devoran and called the Devoran, Point and Perranwharf Regatta.
Extract written by Viv Acton 1993
"The gay crowds, the sunshine, the gentle sailing breeze all contributed to the day's happiness."
This quotation from Violet Whish's novel, Come Four Winds, sums up regatta days as she knew them in the middle years of this century. (What word can replace "gay" in this context nowadays?) This year the Point and Penpol Regatta is celebrating its centenary.
Boats must always have played an important part in the life of the people living around the creek both for work and leisure, but organised sailing races became a feature of many seaside towns and villages during the nineteenth century. Even before 1893 there was at least one regatta held here, as the West Brion 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."
As I am writing this (March 1993) plans are being made for the Centenary celebrations, for a band, an open-air service, a display of local crafts, a twinning ceremony with the Breton village of L'Hôpital-Camfrout and a full turn-out of working boats, in addition to the usual splendid teas provided for Visitors and Crews.
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 audiovant.
In all this activity the boats seem forgotten but there were more than ten sailing and rowing races for men and women, with the names of Ferris, Hitchens, Crocker, Michell, Trebilcock and Bryant cropping up frequently in the lists of winners. Two familiar boats were Flip Flap and Grannie & Grandpa, first and third in the working dredging boats race. Most of the boats were working boats of some sort; not an Optimist, Firefly or catamaran in sight in those days.
During the Second World War two successive regattas were held to raise money for the Red Cross, with the usual carnival procession. A water carnival was held at the time of the coronation, when in the evening specially
decorated and lit boats sailed past the quay, That was the famous occasion when the Cunard liner Queen Mary sailed in the creek.
Extract written by Charles Warren 1993
I must leave the first six decades of the history of Point and Penpoll Regatta to the historians. My earliest memories go back to the regattas immediately after World War II.
For my first regatta I crewed with the late Norman Ferris in the Harriet, his 32ft working boat. She was kept moored off Point Quay and can be seen in some of the postcards of the '50s and '60s. I used to keep her pumped out regularly and helped "scrub the bottom" and apply the black varnish before race days. Other working boats owned locally and competing were the Maid Nellie and the Stella. At the same time the late Mr Syd Deeble raced his pretty blue 18ft sloop the Jolly Roger. She was also moored off the Quay. Mr W. Polglaze from Restronguet brought his green, tall-masted yacht Syrinx to the regattas, and the late Howard Michell from Chycoose raced his 14ft lug-and-mizzen punt the Pet.
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.
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".
The '60s saw the daily and yachting press offering prizes for designs suitable for home building. John Holt and Ian Proctor became well-known designers and the Enterprise dinghy with its blue sails and the G.P.14 with its bell insignia became very popular. To date over 22,000 "E"s have been built. Local "E" owners have included Richard Bawden, Tedi Trebilcock, Arthur Mannell, Norman Aubrey,Trevor Pooley, Bob Warren and myself.
The '70s saw the expansion of G.R.P. as a boat-building medium. Many designs were copies of existing wooden hulls but others were designed specifically for moulding. One of the more popular classes is the International Laser, now accepted as an Olympic class, over 150,000 having been built. The Lark, the 420 and the Kestrel are all popular. In the cruiser classes Hurley Marine Silhouettes, 18s, 22s and Westerly Nimrod, 22s Centaurs and more recently the G.R.P. Toshers from Mylor and the very popular tar-sailed Cornish Shrimpers have all competed in regattas.
The young people of the village have competed in Cadets, Mirrors, Toppers and more recently in Optimist dinghies. Since the Jubilee Regatta there have also been swimming, canoe and dinghy events for children.
This year the Regatta Committee are hoping that a revival of some old attractions and the addition of Some new ones will make the Centenary Regatta more enjoyable for the existing enthusiasts and will attract an even wider audience. More information will be available on posters and in the Regatta Programmes."
These notes from the event in 1993 give a flavour of the modern regatta era.
Children's Sports:- 19th June, on Point Green, start at 1.30 p.m.
Regatta:- 19th June, at Point Quay, First race at 4.25 p.m.
Water Sports:- 21st June, at Point Quay, start at 6.00 p.m.
The following events and exhibitions will be staged:-
SATURDAY 19th JUNE
1. W.I.Craft Exhibition, 10.30 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
2. Children's sports, Point Green, 1.30 p.m.
3. Display of Old Photos of Point & Penpoll 2.00 p.m.
4. Author signing copies of new History of Point & Penpoll, 2.00 – 5.00 p.m.
5. Display of Children's models, 2.00p.m.
6. Steam Engine & Organ, 2.00 – 6.00 p.m.
7. Welcome to our Guests from L'Hopital-Camfrout, Brittany, here for a Twinning Ceremony with Feock Parish, 3 p.m.
8. W.I. Raffle
9. Truro City Band Concert, 7.00 p.m.
Boats will have been an important part of life in the whole creek, as it was with the rest of the Fal and this can be seen from the account of Rowing Races at Carnon Mine further back in the 20th century recorded within the “Feock with Devoran and Carnon Downs some aspects of Local History booklet III produced by Feock Local History Group as set out below:
ROWING RACES A CARNON MINE
In the days when there were many fishing boats and other working boats to cated in the river and owned by people in the Devoran area, rowing races were held on most evenings in the summer when the tide served. Crews and individuals used to race against each other and would often change boats to eliminate any advantage since some boats were well known to be faster than others.
The course was usually from Carnon Mine, round an old hulk off Devoran lower quay, down to the channel post off Chycoose and back to finish off at Carnon Mine.
The boats were usually the 15 foot skiffs or the 15 foot oyster dredging punts with a crew of three, two with an oar and one with two paddles. A number of boats were built with racing specially in mind and one builder of fast boats was Mr Fred. Bryant who still lives at Carnon Mines.
Some of the best known boats were:
Evelyn: Designed by Mr Charley George and built in Wales. She was brought to Devoran on board either the Erimus or the Trefusis, the steamboats that worked between Wales and Devoran. She is still owned by Mr F. Bryant.
Kitty: Built by Mr F. Bryant Maid Nancy Built by Mr T. Hichins at Carnon Yard
Flip Fap: Built by Mr T. Hichins at Carnon Yard
Among the keenest rowing men were Messrs Dick, Tom and Charlie Trebilcock, who rowed the Maid Narcy and the Kitty; Messrs Dick and John Ferris with Mr Gordon Martin of Falmouth; and Messrs Fred and Dick Bryant with either Mr Dick Trebilcock or Mr Dick Jackett of Falmouth.
There was great rivalry between crews from Devoran and Coombe and races were held at Coombe, Pill, Restronguet, Point and Devoran and Feock. However the men from Coombe and those of Devoran used to join forces to send crews to compete at Hayle Regattas and were very successful.
Compiled from information supplied by Mr R,Michell, Mr R. Ferris and Mr A. George
Collated by Phil Allen