Whitby Regatta 2012 – yachts and oars and much, much more

Whitby Regatta 2012 – yachts and oars and much, much more

18, 19 & 20 August 2012

One of the rowing races at the Regatta - crowds line the harbour as the boats race to the finish - © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette
One of the rowing races at the Regatta – crowds line the harbour as the boats race to the finish – © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette

The annual Whitby Regatta which is held every August has a long and glorious history. It is very likely that it’s the oldest sea-based regatta in the country having originated with local fisherman vying for honours in the late 18th century or the early 19th. The exact date is lost in the sea-frets of time but a Whitby Challenge Cup, awarded by the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, was recorded as having been won by the schooner Whiled in 1847, and a handsome prize of 50 guineas was won by the captain or the ship’s owner (historical note: a guinea is a pound and a shilling, ie £1.05, and 50 guineas is £52.50, but the prize would be worth a lot more than that today). The fishermen who started the whole thing weren’t racing anything as luxurious as yachts – instead they competed using salmon cobles and fishing smacks (the boats that they used every day to earn their living) and though it was primarily for entertainment purposes, the Regatta served to encourage the honing of seamanship skills which would be useful for the rest of the year.

An aerial view of Whitby Regatta - © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette
An aerial view of Whitby Regatta – © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette

As time went by the number of ocean-going ships available for racing dropped away, and now the offshore entertainment for the Regatta mainly comprises fiercely-fought small yacht and rowing races.

The fun fair on the pier at night - © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette
The fun fair on the pier at night – © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette

Whilst the larger vessels are no longer present, this is more than compensated for by the growth of onshore activities including a Fun Fair, a 4-Kilometre Fun Run on the Sunday starting at 10 am from Crescent Gardens, an Under-11 Beach Soccer Festival on the Saturday (from 10 am to 2 pm, entry fee £5 per team) and a stunning Firework Display as a finale on the Monday evening with special effect shells, star bursts, and an almost continuous barrage of whistling coloured rockets and other spectacular fireworks.

Crowds on the West Cliff watching entertainment and waiting for the RAF’s Red Arrows Display Team to start their acrobatics - © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette
Crowds on the West Cliff watching entertainment and waiting for the RAF’s Red Arrows Display Team to start their acrobatics – © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette

Moreover there are other things planned for the skies above earlier in the weekend – a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (with Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes) and the Red Arrow Display Team performing their amazing aerial acrobatics on Sunday at 12 noon. Please note that these aero displays are subject to the demands of operational duties. Just before Monday evening’s fireworks, there’ll be a prize-giving ceremony for the winners of the various competitions.

The RAF’s aerial display team, the Red Arrows - © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette
The RAF’s aerial display team, the Red Arrows – © Ceri Oakes/Whitby Gazette

Whitby Regatta has grown over the years and it now attract crowds of around 20,000 people from near and far, so be sure to arrive early. There’s lots of parking in the town, and great pubs and restaurants, as well as plenty of visitor accommodation, and there are tons of other fascinating things to see and do if you decide to make the Regatta part of a longer break.

A fiesta of fantastic fireworks on the Monday night to close a fantastic weekend
A fiesta of fantastic fireworks on the Monday night to close a fantastic weekend

The dates for the Whitby Regatta for the next four years have also been arranged and they are:

10-12 August 2013

9-11 August 2014

15-17 August 2015

20-22 August 2016

You can find more details about past, present and future Whitby Regattas at the Regatta’s website.

And you can keep in touch with what’s happening with the Regatta and all the other news for Whitby in the Whitby Gazette.