Award-winning Ullswater Yacht Club’s biggest event of the year, the long-distance Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy, takes place on July 6 & 7.
The celebration regatta was first raced in 1963 in honour of Lord Norman Birkett who died two days after making a successful speech in the House of Lords which prevented Ullswater from becoming a reservoir. Every year since then, the club has held the prestigious two-day round-the-island race in memory of the ‘Saviour of Ullswater.’ It has become a festival of sailing and so popular with racers from all over the country that a limit of 230 boats has been placed on entries.
The quest for the ‘Holy Grail’ of a Birkett win attracts keen sailors from national champions to novices in a huge range of different boats. The winner will not only take home the sought-after Birkett silver salver but also get to spend a night at luxury hotel, the Sharrow Bay. The club’s next door neighbour, the prestigious Sharrow Bay country house hotel has generously offered a prize for the winner – bed and breakfast for two.
One of the most spectacular sailing events in the North, the Birkett, winner of a Cumbria Tourism’s Event of the Year Award, was rated number eight in the top 50 ‘must do’ sailing regattas by Yachts & Yachting magazine. On Saturday, the 230 boats race down the lake, a distance of about seven miles, past Kailpot Crag and the plaque to the memory of Lord Birkett, round an island at the southern end, and back. Then they do it all again on Sunday – with both races to count.
And non-racers can experience a piece of the on-the-water action on a special three-hour Birkett Cruise organised by Ullswater ‘Steamers’. Passengers on the exclusive charter will board at Pooley Bridge Pier at 12.30pm on Saturday, July 1, and the steamer will stand by off the UYC clubhouse so that they can experience the drama of the 1pm mass start by 230 boats on a line which stretches the full width of the lake. UYC members give a commentary as the steamer follows the fleet.
“The Birkett Cruise has become a traditional feature of the event and we are delighted that Ullswater ‘Steamers’ are giving the families and friends of racers as well as anyone who wants to experience the drama of the race, the chance to get involved,” said Birkett organiser Rick Boyce.
“The racing boats make for a spectacular sight all along the lake, for anyone wanting to watch the race from the shore, the start times are 1pm on Saturday, July 6, and 11am on Sunday, July 7.”
Ullswater Yacht Club is the winner of two ‘Club of the Year’ awards – named the best in the country by readers of Yachts & Yachting magazine and also honoured as RYA Club of the Year in 2017. The club is on the North-east shore of the lake about two miles from Pooley Bridge on Howtown Road.
Book for the Birkett Cruise direct with the steamer company at www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk tel 017684 82229.