Salcombe Town Regatta 2018

By Caroline Stephani on May 12, 2017

The Salcombe Town Regatta itself is a testament to the local community that’s proud of its traditions. The week is packed with activities on land and sea for all ages. The name “Regatta” means a series of boat races (either rowing or sailing) and this particular regatta has been going for over 120 years.

Emma Cater, the manager of the Salcombe Town Regatta, says that all involved try and keep the events true to the original spirit, with lots going on for all ages and interests. If you’re not one for the water, indulge in the Salcombe Dairy ice-cream contest, have a go at the popular sandcastle contest or an art competition. For more information about family-friendly events that are taking place on land and sea, receive updates on the Salcombe Town Regatta via its Facebook page here.

Sailing in the Salcombe Town Regatta

We asked East Portlemouth-raised sailor and author Scratch Hitchen to tell us more about the Salcombe Town Regatta. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Salcombe and how it’s changed, Scratch, who had sailed around the world five times by the age of 19, has a forthcoming book called ‘Better Born Lucky than Rich’.

Find out more about him here

Scratch Hitchen by the water in Salcombe


The timings of the Salcombe Town Regatta events vary according to the tide times with the majority of sailing taking place in the mornings. Special events, such as the crabbers’ race, take place at high tide in the evening which is quite a sight to behold!

On the sailing side there are two different types of races. The new designs of sailing boats are made of fibre-glass making them quicker than the traditional Salcombe yawls, so they normally race separately. It’s a bit like trying to race classic cars with racing cars.

You can identify the newer makes, as they are individually numbered higher than Y14. Anything lower is the older type of yacht. To see some of the oldest photographs of the races pop into Explosures on Fore Street.



What’s on

My earliest memories of the Salcombe Town Regatta involve the harbour swim, where hundreds of people (around 600) start from Smalls Cove and swim to Salcombe Harbour Hotel. The harbour swim and the fun run are held early in the morning so the harbour authority can block off the traffic on land and sea.

Get involved: All you will need to do to get involved is sign a pre-registration form. It’s a safety procedure to keep track of the large influx of people entering the event.

The sandcastle competition on South Sands beach is always well attended, with over 100 castles and sculptures being crafted by children and adults at low tide boasting a fantastic atmosphere. Some other events that occur during low tide are mud races and crab catching.

A large crowd always gather to cheer the children on every evening on Whitestrand for the greasy pole competition, whereby a telegraph pole is put over the water for kids to battle with pillows to stay on.


crabbers race 2016

The week culminates with two large events – the exciting firework display on the Thursday evening, then the crabbers race on the Friday, which has a long-standing tradition as being the Salcombe Town Regatta’s pinnacle. Crabbing boats from Salcombe and local ports race out of the harbour, over the bar and back again all decked out in bunting and fancy dress.

For some of the most unspoilt views of the race, watch from The Ferry Inn.

There’s also the prize giving and torch-lit lantern procession that takes place in the evening. This includes a number of different types of boats on the estuary with lit lanterns to create an astounding display – everyone enjoys seeing the twinkling lights slowly disappear into the night.

fireworks salcombe regatta 2016

Going to the Salcombe Town Regatta with small children

Local mother of two, Samantha Bidwell shares some of her fondest memories of the events at the Salcombe Town Regatta she attends each year.

The family festival has lots of children’s land and water treasure hunts. “The ‘spot the bloomer’ is popular with the kids, involving a quest for odd objects in shop windows to find and put answers in the programme. (Cranches is usually one of the most challenging.)”

Getting there

We would suggest using the Park and Ride in Salcombe which operates every day throughout the summer and late on firework night. You can travel in by boat from Kingsbridge and the surrounding ports at any time. Events are popular, so it is always worth arriving slightly earlier to ensure you can take part.

Where to stay

16bolthead-Book the nearby property 16 Bolt Head– a two storey town house tastefully furnished and equipped throughout. The property enjoys a private terrace to the front has a table and chairs, and offers quick access down to the beach via a nearby path.

More South Devon events

Paddleboarding in South DevonCheck out our South Devon events page for a comprehensive list of what’s on locally this year.