Associated British Port’s (ABP) Ipswich Beacon Marina will be welcoming over 60 visiting classic yachts and traditional working boats to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Old Gaffers Association this weekend. The Waterfront will be awash with revellers celebrating the 60 years the Old Gaffers Association’s (OGA) 60th anniversary year.
The celebrations will officially start on Thursday 3 August with a Civic Reception outside of Old Customs House and addressed by the Mayor of Ipswich, which will also welcome the return of 15 OGA boats completing a circumnavigation of the UK.
On Friday 4 August there will be a Parade of Sail departing Ipswich Wet Dock at approximately 14:00 to sail downriver to Suffolk Yacht Harbour in Levington for two days of cruising and racing in the Orwell, Stour and out to sea, dependent on weather conditions. Members of the public are being encouraged to watch this spectacle from various vantage points along the River Orwell.
There will be a range of vessels on display – all gaff rigged – which is the same sailing rig used by many working craft over 100 years ago. The largest boat is ‘Lilian’, thought to be the oldest surviving diesel gentleman’s yacht worldwide. The oldest boats attending are the restored Essex smack ‘Pioneer’, built in 1864, and ‘Fanny of Cowes’ built in 1872 and still racing under her original fishing no. CS12.
Evocative of a bygone era when such boats were a common sight in and around the River Orwell and Suffolk coast, this is an exciting time for local boat enthusiasts to enjoy the traditional vessels gracing Ipswich Waterfront.
Vessels started arriving at Ipswich Beacon Marina on Wednesday 2 August, and locals are invited to visit and enjoy the Waterfront facilities and the sights of these historic craft.
Lucy Edmonds, ABP’s East Anglia Marina Manager said: “We’re really excited to welcome members of the Old Gaffers Association to ABP’s Ipswich Beacon Marina. The team is gearing up for a busy few days and it is great to see so many enjoy the waters.”
Paul Ager, Divisional Port Manager, ABP said: “ABP’s Port of Ipswich is delighted to be supporting the OGA’s Jubilee celebrations this weekend, and is pleased to have been a long-time supporter of the OGA having hosted its annual regatta at our Ipswich Marina in the Wet Dock for over 20 years since it was first opened by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, renowned for being the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. ABP is committed to supporting a variety of maritime events like these long into the future.”
Robert Hill, the Old Gaffers Association’s East Coast Area President said: “The OGA60 participants are thrilled to be able to celebrate the cumulation of a series of celebrations that have taken place across the UK over the last few months at a location that has strong connections with the founding of the organisation.
“Members of the OGA have gathered at Ipswich Marina for many years and is pleased that this year it will be host its national Jubilee celebration. Ipswich Beacon Marina is in an ideal location for members from across the country to gather as it is excellent transport connections and is also at the heart of the town with access to a great range of facilities.
“Ipswich Marina is also a natural fit for an event like this as a historic port and one of the oldest Wet Dock in the country.
“We want to thank ABP for their generous support in helping to make this event a reality and for sponsoring our Civic Reception and providing berthing space in the marina for participants.”
Visit bit.ly/oga60-public to find information about where to watch the OGA Jubilee events this week, a map and link to purchase tickets to cruise on the famous Thames sailing barge Victor.