The Salcombe Town Regatta itself is a testament to the local community that’s proud of its traditions. The week is jam 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 thriving for over 120 years.
Debbie Hainey, the Salcombe Town Regatta chairman, 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.
What’s on during the Salcombe Regatta
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 in the harbour swim! All you will need to do is sign a pre-registration form and turn up for a splash.
The team at Coast & Country Cottages love the Salcombe Regatta, and lucky for us, our offices are situated on Island Street, right at the heart of the the regatta festivities. Do pop up and say hello if you’re passing, but if not, you will find us at the Island Street Party on Sunday 12th August, and furthermore, judging the fancy dress parade the following day!
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.
The week culminates with an exciting firework display on the Thursday evening, which has a long-standing tradition as being the Salcombe Town Regatta’s pinnacle. On the Friday, there is a popular Water Carnival where entrants are invited to decorate their boat and wear fancy dress!
For some of the most unspoilt views of the race, watch from The Ferry Inn or from Cliff House Gardens.
There’s also the prize giving and torch-lit lantern procession that takes place the following 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.
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.)”
What’s more, the regatta enjoys numerous activities throughout the week that are focused on children such as the Family Fun Day at the Winking Prawn, donkey rides, teddy bears picnic, sandcastle competition, crab catching and much, much more!
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’.
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.
Getting to the Salcombe Regatta
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.
More popular South Devon events
Check out our South Devon events page for a comprehensive list of what’s on locally this year.