Guest Blog Post – Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta
The flags and bunting will be flying high again over the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta from Saturday, August 25 – Saturday, September 1.
A major attraction on the South West calendar since its inception in 1834, this year’s event promises to have a more traditional feel but with fresh emphasis on community and river based activities.
Organisers have gone back to grass roots principles with a programme they hope will fittingly celebrate the true meaning and spirit of the Royal Regatta.
Despite suffering heavy losses in 2017, the volunteer committee is determined to stage an event the town can be proud of and ensure the Regatta maintains its position as one of the most popular, eclectic and spectacular events this summer for families, residents and visitors alike.
Much of the exciting and innovative programme is still emerging from the planning stage but will include many of the traditional aquatic sports of rowing, sailing and swimming which remain at the heart of Regatta.
Regatta Chairman Ed Botterill said: “We have emerged from a difficult 12 months and have had to make some difficult decisions. But it is testament to the hard work of our volunteer committee that we are hoping to stage many of those traditional events which have become synonymous with our Regatta.
“Regatta’s relationship with the river is where it all began and we are conscious that this must be our starting point.
“Sadly, tight restrictions governing air shows following the Shoreham air disaster now mean we are unlikely to see a return of the Red Arrows this year, but there is much, much more to look forward to in terms of competition, sport, fun, shopping, food and drink, music, pageantry and entertainment.”
A feast of rowing takes centre-piece on the river Dart with the final regatta of the West of England Amateur Rowing Association ten regatta championship series which attracts rowing clubs from around the region and along the south coast; three days of local rowing events in whalers and ‘cadet’ boats which attracts over 700 competitors; and gig rowing amongst South Devon pilot gig clubs.
The Embankment in Dartmouth is a favourite place from which to watch the events and the commentary over the Regatta public address system keeps spectators up to date.
Volunteers from the three local clubs, The Royal Dart Yacht Club, Dartmouth Yacht Club and Dittisham Sailing Club, organise the sailing events which are spread over the eight days of Regatta. The dinghy racing for the junior sailors takes place on the lower reaches of the Dart and for the senior competitors in the waters between Dittisham and Galmpton. The yachting events – of which there are over 50 – take place in Start Bay with an anticipated 250 boats, ranging from older classics to high-end racing machines providing for some very exciting and competitive racing.
In addition to the rowing and sailing there are a number of other well established sporting events. Athletics has been part of the Regatta since 1937 and is represented now by the Regatta Road Race, which will be run over a very testing five-mile course. There are also fun runs for children and young adults.
New to the Regatta programme last year was stand up paddle boarding which it is hoped will return, along with the traditional swimming gala.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of the Regatta Tennis Tournament and a week long celebratory programme is being held at the tennis courts in Coronation Park which includes a closed event for local players and an open tournament recognised and supported by the Lawn Tennis Association.
Other sporting attractions planned are a one-day golf tournament at the Dartmouth Golf and Country Club with competitions for both men and ladies; an evening Darts tournament held at the Anzac Club in Dartmouth over two evenings, a competitive water polo event held in the Boat Float and bungee rowing off the Town Pontoon.
Every year the Regatta organises a variety of entertainment. Evening events, such as the prestigious black tie ball and rock concert, are being restyled and moved from the expensive Marquee on Coronation Park towards other venues within the town.
The Bandstand in Royal Avenue Gardens also has a lively music programme throughout the week and it is hoped for a repeat of the open air cinema experience on Coronation Park.
The hugely popular Shopping Village with many craft stalls and delicious food and drink will now be accommodated in the more intimate surrounds of the Old Market, bringing more shopping traffic into the centre regions of town.
There is also a vibrant Street Market on the North Embankment which operates for the whole week and other diverse food and drink outlets in Royal Avenue Gardens.
Other events on the river are the Illuminated Boat Procession held after dark on the Friday and the Classic Craft review and steamboat rally on the Saturday afternoon.
There are a number of events for children including crab fishing and a colouring competition, fancy dress and ice cream eating competition.
Families can enjoy many fun events such as trolley racing and waiters and waitresses races and the ever popular competition, Spot the Oddity.
One of the favourite parts of the whole of Regatta week are the spectacular firework displays, guaranteed to leave lasting memories for those who come to enjoy all that the 174th Dartmouth Royal Regatta has to offer.
Find out more about Dartmouth Royal Regatta on their website here.