The Transat is coming to Plymouth next year but can a UK city sill light the public's fire?


So the Transat Race is to begin from Plymouth again next year, following long negotiations with Plymouth Council and South West agencies, aided and abetted by Plymouth-based sailor Conrad Humphreys.

That’s good news, perhaps even vital news for UK sailing. Once Britain was the ancestral home of solo ocean racing but foreign money and local apathy have frittered away its pre-eminence. For the UK’s multi-billion pound marine industry this ought to be massively more of a worry than it is because it still, to some degree, trades on this perception.

Hopefully Plymouth can get its act together next May and properly promote this great race to the public. UK sailing badly needs some vision and energy, people who can grasp that ocean races are the living chapter of our maritime history. And therefore that these big ocean races are historic and unmissable sporting events.

It will take quite a turnaround. Despite one of the most eventful and dramatic Fastnet Races in recent years, how many people came to see the boats and sample the atmosphere in Queen Anne’s Battery Marina in Plymouth? I think I saw a few folk strolling down the pier. But why would they come? Were there public interviews, on board videos, prize-giving ceremonies to watch? Not a bit of it. It’s tragic.

Come on, Plymouth Council: other cities around the world would pay a fortune for an opportunity like this. You had this one on a plate.

On another subject, it will be interesting to see OC Group’s Notice of Race in few weeks. Will they or won’t they include the spectacular but accident-prone ORMA 60 trimarans, a class that has waned dramatically since the last Transat three years ago. Or will they decide to concentrate on the growing fleet of Open 60s and give them pride of place?

1 comment:I’ve been sailing 35 years, competed in two Fastnet Races, been past there shorthanded a score of times…. and I was a member of the RWYC for a couple of decades, having also done my stint at RBR and *STAR scrutineering over the years. So I hear your call. I was also in/around West Devon, Plymouth, Looe and the Upper Tamar, with time on my hands, all Thursday 16 and Friday 17. In the past, I’d have spent as much time as I could ‘soaking up the atmosphere’ and absorbing some of the visible technical fixes on board e.g. the Open 60s and others. Not this time…

In recent years I’ve been disenchanted with the heavy and oppressive ‘security’ presence which has sought to turn away all but pass-carrying journos and those willing to insist, demand the presence of a manager, and hold up a queue of other traffic. I’ve done that in the past, for I have no mal-intent towards any boats and their users – it is, after all, my life’s passion – and I’d just invested some hours of driving and the cost of a tank of petrol. This year, despite my enthusiasm for what had taken place on the water, I chose to keep well away from QAB – even though I was nearby. I don’t want to be given the impression, by some SIA doorkeeper, that my seeking entry to a marina – even on payment – represents a threat to the nation’s peace and stability. As has happened.Bil Bailey.