50th anniversary year for the association of traditional gaff rig boats

Six hundred dinner tickets were snapped up and 180 boats registered when bookings opened for the Old Gaffers Association’s (OGA) Jubilee Festival.

The first phase of ticket sales sold out for the event at Cowes, Isle of Wight, which aims to be a spectacular finale for the Round Britain Challenge – the 50th anniversary voyage of traditional gaff-rig boats from across Europe.

Organisers are now working with sponsors to obtain more berths on the island for the festival dates of 15-18 August to meet the demand.

There will be racing in the Solent on the Saturday for anniversary trophies and crew parties every night.

OGA secretary Sue Lewis praised event sponsors ABP, Teamac and James Lawrence Sailmakers for their support, and said: ‘We’re now on the second stage of ticket sales.

‘People can get on a waiting list by registering as ‘visitors on foot’ and state that they would like to bring a boat.

‘Cowes Yacht Haven is booked out, but by sourcing berths elsewhere we’re hoping to get 200 or more gaffers to Cowes, including boats from the Netherlands, Belgium and France.’

Festival registration fees start from £30 for OGA members and £40 for non-members, and include three nights’ mooring, a festival pennant and skipper’s goodie bag.

For revellers attending on foot, entry is free for members and £5 for non-members, but online registration is needed to buy dinner tickets.

A bumper series of events are taking place nationwide to mark the OGA’s historic year.

Forty boats have so far registered their interest in the 2,000-mile Round Britain Challenge, which begins in Maldon, Essex on 21 April and will see Old Gaffers travelling clockwise around the coast,
enjoying celebrations en route.

One of the oldest boats participating is Bonita, a Morecambe Bay Prawner launched in 1888, while ‘new gaffers’ include Tim and Liz Dodwell’s modern glassfibre 9.1m (30ft) pilot cutter High Barbaree, built by Cornish Crabbers.

For smaller boats, The Relay invites sailors to join in the fun by carrying or accompanying a token on shorter legs around the UK.

Traditional Sail Cardiff 2013 is celebrating the OGA’s 50th anniversary from 28 June to 1 July with river-raiding up the Ely and Taff Rivers, racing for boats of all sizes and a grand parade of sail.

The OGA 50 2013 Irish Sea Rally, held from 8-12 August, will see the Peel Traditional Boat Weekend on the Isle of Man extended to five days in celebration of the OGA Jubilee. An anniversary book, compiled and edited by Viv Head, will also be published.

Visit www.oga50.org

(Picture 1: Old Gaffers enjoying a festival off the Isle of Wight. Credit: Jessica Warren

Picture 2: High Barbaree. Credit: Derrick Thorrington)