Beer luggers set sail for Looe

LUGGERS from Beer will be off to Looe this weekend (June 12,13,14).

LUGGERS from Beer will be off to Looe this weekend (June 12,13,14) for the Cornish Lugger Association biennial regatta in South East Cornwall And they will be joined by boats from France, which will be crossing the Channel to renew rivalries with those Cornish-built fishing boats which, in the last century, would have worked alongside them in the English Channel fishing grounds.It's 20 years since a group of enthusiasts in Looe first decided to arrange a get-together of Cornish fishing luggers. Some of the large, former pilchard and herring boats, which used to be such a regular sight, sailing daily out of ports around the South Devon and Cornwall coastline, are now more than 100 years old.Ever since 1989, the proud owners of these West Country fishing luggers - traditional, wooden-built boats which sailed to the fishing grounds under lug rigs, hence their rather unusual name - have returned to Looe every two years for what has become an increasingly emotional reunion.This year's event is likely to attract as many as 40 boats with their huge and colourful canvas sails, as well a host of other smaller Luggers from all over the UK - including a healthy contingent of boats which regularly race out of Beer in East Devon.Of the French boats expected, Le Grand Lejon is always a welcome visitor from Le Legue and the port of St Brieuc in Brittany. A 48-footer, with Breton Standing Lug rig, she was built on the banks of the River Treguier by Yvon Clochet as an exact replica of the 1896 sailing vessel, La Jeanne d'Arc.Back again for the first time in Cornish waters since 2001 will be La Cancalaise, an impressive three-masted Lugger of 60-ft overall.Built at Cancale in 1987, she is an exact replica of La Perle, the last of the original French sailing and fishing bisquines.The Cornish Lugger Association stresses that the principal objective of the reunion weekend is for a get-together of like-minded souls and a chance to parade sailing boats from a bygone age. It's not all to do with racing and boat speeds.But when the Looe Sailing Club starting gun sounds in the bay, the action will be as competitive as it was all those years ago when the boats vied to become the first back in port with the day's catch.The Fish Market on East Looe Quay will be the venue for the crews' reception on the Friday and prizegiving on the Sunday evening.Saturday night's entertainment, provided by the ska band The Mighty Offbeats, is open to all.For more details, please contact Paul Greenwood, the chairman of the Cornish Lugger Association, on Looe (01503) 265 380.

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