The Old Gaffers Festival

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, 30th May-1st June 2014,
What is an Old Gaffer?,

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, 30th May-1st June 2014

What is an Old Gaffer?

Traditionally and for many centuries sailing boats favoured a sail with a spar at the top, otherwise known as “square rigged ships”. This was later superseded by by a design that the enabled the boats to sail closer to the wind, the sails were run the length of the boat rather than across. The Thames barge is a prime example of such a design known as the “fore and aft” rig.

Gaff rigged yacht

Since the reign of King Charles 1, yachts and the majority of fishing boats favoured the gaff rig, so called because the spar is positioned above the main sail, at the top or gaff, hence gaffers. These boats also have a spur at the bottom known as the boom. In 1959 three gaffer skippers organized their own race in the Solent. Each successive year saw an increase in the number of entrants. Today the Old Gaffers Association has 1,400 members in the UK.

Festival - Celebration of the Old Gaffer

This year from 30th May to 1st June Yarmouth’s picturesque harbor will once again host the Old Gaffers Festival. Yarmouth Harbour will be filled with life and colour with more than 100 visiting traditional sailing, steam and motor vehicles, including the finest examples of the Old Gaffers fleet, which travel from all over the country to take part.

This annual event attracts thousands of visitors to this ancient and attractive town, who come to enjoy the wonderful and free street entertainment, and sample the quality and interesting food and craft stalls. There is live music and Morris dancing, workshops and guided walks, as well as the exciting racing of the Gaff-rigged boats within site of the shore. In addition spectacular Gaff-rigged boats fill the harbor and classic cars line the streets.

The Old Gaffers race takes place on the Saturday and on Sunday morning The Royal Solent Yacht Club has the Queen’s Jubilee race. Yarmouth town is a short ten minute car journey from Farringford.

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