A new festival featuring the inaugural Northumberland Cup yacht race takes place on the county’s coast next week.
The Northumberland Maritime Festival takes place in Blyth and Amble featuring boat races, entertainment and community activities on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.
The event is being held alongside the popular Blyth Town Fair, which takes place at Blyth Marketplace on the same weekend, with free live music, a fun fair, street entertainment, an arts and crafts fair, Blyth weekly market and food and drink.
The festival will feature the first Northumberland Yachting Plate, a weekend of racing organised by the Royal Northumberland Yachting Club based in Blyth, and the Coquet Yacht Club, from Amble. The race has been initiated by Northumberland County Council to highlight the spectacular Northumbrian coastline.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “Northumberland has a rich maritime history and the festival will build upon the strengths of our coastal communities where boat building and restoration projects are keeping traditional skills alive, and where rowing and sailing are growing in popularity.”
The weekend has been organised by a partnership including the yacht clubs at Blyth and Amble, Blyth Town Council, Blyth Development Trust, The Port of Blyth, Catapult, The RNLI, Northumberland County Council, Blyth Tall Ships Project, IFCA Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Blyth Community Rowing Club.
Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth, said: “As a major UK Trust Port, we are delighted to be involved with the festival which emphasises that our excellent facilities can be utilised by both commercial and leisure users.”
The main race of the weekend starts at 9.30am on the Saturday morning with racing vessels setting off from Amble. The yachts are expected to reach the finish line in Blyth between 1pm and 3pm that day – depending upon the weather.
Phil Derry, commodore at Coquet Yacht Club, said: “We are looking forward to taking part and we are hoping for a great turnout for the race to Blyth and back. We are also delighted to be hosting the first part of the event at our boathouse on the River Coquet.”
A parade of sail, starting at approximately 11.30am along Blyth quayside and featuring more than 40 vessels will launch Sunday’s entertainment, including races for sports boats, community skiffs, spinnaker and white sail class vessels.
Clive Griffiths, sailing secretary at Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, said: “Sailing is a fantastic pastime and the festival will put both sailing and rowing in the spotlight. In our 125th anniversary year, we hope the events inspire more local people to come along and try sailing.”
Land-based activities along Blyth quayside will include a small children’s funfair, live entertainment and a variety of stalls and vendors all running between 10am and 3.30pm.
Karen Walker, from Blyth Development Trust, said: “The weekend promises to be an exciting one with so many boats converging on Blyth and with the town fair, market stalls and so many other attractions, it promises to be a fantastic day out for all the family.”
The Tall Ship Project, which has started restoring a 100-year-old Tall Ship, the Haabet, will be opening its workshops over the whole weekend to show how the impressive restoration of the ship is being carried out.