Crabbers Race

Sitting in Cliff House gardens it was a beautiful sunny evening in the estuary; the light bouncing off the cliffs, yachts bobbing on their moorings, dory’s making their way towards Blackstone and beach goers playing rounders on nearby Smalls beach.

Then imagine the Star Wars theme tune starting to play in the background as the strong and mighty Salcombe Crabbing boats left from Fisherman’s Quay and pushed their bows around the corner from Whitestrand . Daa daa daaa, dadi daaa, dadi daaaaaa….The boisterous ladies of the high seas dolled up to the nines in flags being steered by their faithful captains towards the yacht club start line.

Dominating the landscape they showed their prowess with powerful water hoses and pleased the gathering crowds at Cliff House by spraying the Police boat and soaking those onboard. 1 -0 to the crabbers. Small boats in the estuary cowered as the big crabbing boats dominated.

Daa daa daaa, dadi daaa, dadi daaaaaa….Down the estuary travelled the tubby steel hulled crabber DH10 Aquila from Dartmouth. The modern crabber holding 2000 pots faced off against SE74 Salcombe Lass, built in 1966 and the only wooden hulled crabber still in operation in Salcombe. Like jousting knights, the crew grimaced and displayed their lances in the form of water balloons and hoses primed for action. They drove forward and passed one-another; the warmblood charger against the coldblood destrier. Neither was tilted but the crowd felt the excitement and the start of the Salcombe Crabbers Race imminent.

Tenacious arrived decked out in pink and the crew included Mr Blobby and the Pink Panther. From a distance you would be forgiven to think that there were multiple pink flags flying from Tenacious but they were actually pink pants, bras and t-shirts flying high! Tenacious was raising money for the chemotherapy unit in Kingsbridge and we’re told made over £2,500 for this wonderful local facility.

The yacht club horn announced the start of the race and off set the 16 or so huge crabbing boats at full throttle up the estuary; a quite wonderful site. First off were the under 30 footers and 10 seconds later the over 30 footers began their race. The resulting wake was huge especially with 6-8 boats abreast in the estuary. Visiting yachtsmen must have been spilling their rum riding those waves.

They raced out to the top of the estuary (where the 8 knot speed limit buoys begin), turned round and came back again with the eventual winner being Anglo Dawn, a fast deep sea fishing boat.

Tenacious all in pink rounded off the race with a release of 400 biodegradable pink balloons into the sky from the stern of the vessel. It was breathtaking to see them float up into the sky whilst picking up the last rays of sunshine. Particularly poignant was to learn about the meaning of the balloons; it represented the 400 people that have been treated in the last year at the Kingsbridge chemo unit.

Photos courtesy of Geoff Foale

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