Last Saturday witnessed the 48th annual Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match and the magnificent sight of some thirty traditional vessels racing in the River Swale off Faversham and Whitstable. The organisers, the Kentish Sail Association, were delighted that, having had to cancel the event for two years due to gales and the pandemic, they were finally able to fire the starting cannon for the 22-mile race out into the Thames estuary and back to the finishing line off Faversham Creek.
Strong winds on the Friday had prevented some entrants arriving from Essex, but there were plenty of vessels to make a great spectacle. The newly-built Thames barge Blue Mermaid was one of the few craft to make it over from Essex and she went on to win the Bowsprit Class. A good turnout of Kent barges – Repertor, Orinoco, Marjorie, Niagra, Edith May and the beautifully restored Cambria – had a fine day’s racing with Repertor winning the Staysail Barge Class, and Cambria the Restricted Class. There were prizes for other craft with the smack William & Mary, the smack yacht Bird of Dawning, the large gaffer Almita and the small gaffer Fifi all taking line honours in their classes.
The Swale also welcomed two traditional Dutch sailing vessels, Albatros and Johanna, the Humber keel Selby Ellen,and Lilian, the beautiful gentleman’s motor yacht, built in Stockholm in 1916, which this year acted as the Committee Boat and added another layer of old-time elegance to the day.
The Swale Match is the largest such traditional boat event on the East Coast, possibly in the country, and offers a vital celebration of these beautiful craft that still play a part around our coast and in our maritime story.
Nigel Stevens writes, “The Swale Regatta is a long standing local event traditionally held over three days, starting on a Friday in the Swale off Harty Ferry, and finishing in the Medway on the Sunday. It caters not just for regular racers but also especially for cruisers who would just like to give sailing with others a go. The Covid restrictions saw last year’s event cancelled but this year fifteen boats from various Medway and Swale clubs managed to get together for the regatta.” See Nigel’s full report below…
Nigel Stevens writes: The plan this year is very much a do what we can approach given the way Covid has dominated much of our lives for the past year or so. Despite the formal documents (below) we are really trying to keep the fun spirit of the regatta alive so would really encourage entrants from nervous first time “racers” as well as perhaps the more seasoned skippers. If people approach it with the attitude that it is long weekend of cruising in company then they hopefully won’t be disappointed.
Unfortunately the Swale Regatta website has crashed and we haven’t been able to get it back in time, so all entrants are asked to drop me an email at Nigelstevens8071@hotmail.co.uk with some basic details and I can get back to them as necessary.
David Pollock of the Kentish Sail Association writes: After 2 years’ cancellations, we’re hoping for a third time lucky and invite you to take part in the Match on 31 July 2021. The Swale Match was established by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie, Hugh Perks and others in 1973, as a festival of all manner of traditional sailing craft on the East Coast. The assembled fleet usually comprises not only Thames sailing barges, smacks and bawleys in several categories, but also a variety of gaffers, classic and bermudan yachts, as well as Dutch barges, Baltic traders and historic powered craft. This provides a magnificent spectacle on the water both for participants and for onlookers.
Last year we introduced a new Open class last year, for non-traditional or unconventional craft, subject to interest. We also held a match race for the Small Open Gaffers class on the Saturday after the scheduled Match, which was very well supported.
Both at anchor in the Swale and on land at Hollowshore, crews and supporters come together for prize-giving and entertainment. As well as Testers’ Boatyard, furnished for the weekend with food and drink stalls and live music, the shore venue also includes the fabled Shipwright’s Arms, supplying cask ales and food. The weekend starts on Friday afternoon, the Match is on Saturday and the homeward voyage is usually undertaken on the Sunday, but you can stay longer!
For further information and to register interest, please contact David Pollock at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 07831 200018
Because of the uncertainty over when the Coronavirus lock-down will be lifted, and to avoid unnecessary travel, the WSC River Challenge 2020 (formerly the Medway Dinghy Regatta), which was to be held in June, has been cancelled. Please put 26/27 June 2021 in your diary for the next event.
ROYAL ENGINEER YACHT CLUB – MARY CUP RACE 2019 Run alongside Medway Cruising Club Gala on Saturday 14 September 2019. The first start is at 1000 hrs BST. The race is open to all comers! There are prizes for all classes. Entry forms, click here, are to be returned by 12th September. Sailing Instruction please click here. Please let us know if you wish to join in so that access at low water can be arranged.
UPDATE: There were six entrants and the winner was MSBA fan Clinton Lyon.
26 Mile Course on the tidal River Medway Open to monohull dinghies and keel boats of 30 feet and under with a PY number. First Start 10.00 Registration closes at 07.30 on the day. More information on MYC website