July's Celebration Weekend

Bembridge Harbour Celebration Weekend 26th-28th July 2013

In 1963 Bembridge Harbour passed into the private ownership of Bembridge Harbour Improvements Company via an Act of Parliament.  To mark the 50th anniversary, a community event was held in July. 

Sail 4 Cancer was the principal charity for the event and a raffle, along with other donations, raised over £1,300 for this wonderful charity (sail4cancer.org).

Here's a run down of the Weekend's events:

From a “then and now” of lifeboats in the Harbour with the Island’s Lord-Lieutenant on board, to the Dad’s wanting their own egg & spoon race on the beach and radio controlled model yachts battling it out off the Fisherman’s pontoon, there was a lot going on over the Celebration Weekend ...

Saturday saw the Bembridge Village Regatta, run by BSC with assistance from BHYC - 3 races were planned for Redwings & One Design keelboats, and 5 for Optimists, Lasers, Scows & the Fast Handicap fleet.   A variable S-SE Force 3/4 breeze at the start, having already forced course changes, disappeared completely by 1545 and remaining races had to be abandoned - Regatta Cups and medals were awarded to the lead boats at the time of the abandonment.  Top marks to all competitors and race officials for perseverance!!  

The historic 1887 ex-Bembridge pulling and sailing lifeboat "Queen Victoria" was in action, being rowed around the Harbour in grand style.  Several teams of volunteer oarsmen enjoyed the experience of rowing the oldest surviving RNLI lifeboat in the country, remembering the bravery of the lifeboat crews of that golden era of rowing lifeboats. HM Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Major General Martin White, also "took an oar" after being transferred across from the present day Bembridge Tamar Class Lifeboat by their inshore boat.

Local companies Tackt-Isle and Isle of Wight SUP Rentals teamed up to provide thrills and spills, running time trial races on paddleboards and a Kayak Tug-of-War (so successful that it has now been added to Tackt-Isle’s list of activities), whilst the Isle of Wight Canoe Club’s taster sessions proved very popular. 

The International Marbleheads and Brookstone One Design fleets of Radio Controlled Model Yachts raced on Saturday off the Fisherman’s pontoon.  This year’s abundance of weed made it more of an obstacle course than a sailing race and proved too much of a hindrance to race again on Sunday but a lot of fun was had nonetheless and many thanks to the two clubs for giving it their best shot!!

The annual Dance on the Duver, in support of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and RNLI Bembridge Lifeboat Station, was a sell out, with a bit of rain doing nothing to dampen the spirits of those there to enjoy fabulous live music from Under Cover and That’s Life.  A great evening which concluded with a spectacular Fireworks Display, orchestrated by Jubilee Fireworks.    

Sunday’s inaugural Great Bembridge Paper Boat Race at Brading Haven Yacht Club took place in a terrific atmosphere with parents and children thoroughly enjoying the event, as too did Malcolm Thorpe, who gave the starting and finishing signals.  The wind was a bit fickle and unfortunately curtailed the children’s race which was won by Oscar Wall, with his sister Jessica 2nd.  Ella and Louis Brooks Pepper tied for 3rd.

The adult race was won by Adrian Martiensson whose multihull craft established an enormous lead before capsizing but which still managed to reach the finishing line first.  2nd place went to a rapid pink sailed craft built by John Margetson which actually finished 4th after sailing a lot further than most of its competitors but was awarded 2nd because the boats that beat him received outside assistance having been righted after capsizing.  3rd place was a tie between John Carter and Spencer Clark.  Prizes were presented by Sarah Noyes, BHYC Commodore, and Malcolm Thorpe.

The Street Market at Bembridge Point was a lively affair with 14 stalls providing Island produce, arts and crafts.  Many thanks to Island Ales, the Isle of Wight Bacon Co, Angel in the Kitchen, The Garlic Farm, Available Light, Clay Clay, Gillian Connor, Paul Newell Sails, Joules Sargent Design, Martin Williams, Pinks Foods, Sunny Days, Sail 4 Cancer and artist Marieke Tollenaere for supporting the event, which proved a great success.  Huge thanks also to Garry Mcinniss who created a great atmosphere with his non-stop music!  

Throughout the weekend, members of the East Wight Photography Group manned an exhibition of their Harbour Competition entries at the Harbour Office.  Members of the group produced, printed and mounted their images, with really impressive results.  There were over 100 entries on display, all taken in the weeks leading up to the Celebration Weekend.  The winning entries are pictured below. 

In addition, historic photos kindly lent by the St Helens Historical Society charted the passage of time in the Harbour since the early 1900s, display boards from the Bembridge and St Helens Harbour Association recorded some of the Association's activities over many years, and children’s art from St Helens Primary and Bembridge CE Primary schools for the Celebration Weekend poster was also on display.

We are very grateful to members of the Bembridge Harbour Advisory Group and the many local bodies and individuals who supported the organisation of the event: Bembridge Parish Council - Bembridge Sailing Club - Brading Haven Yacht Club - Bembridge Business Association - Bembridge Heritage Society - St Helens Historical Society - Will Squibb - Bembridge RNLI - Isle of Wight Historic Lifeboat Trust - Tackt-Isle Adventures - SUP Rentals - Isle of Wight Canoe Club - East Wight Photography Club  - BASHHA - Raynet - 1st Bembridge, St Helens & Seaview Sea Scout Group - HJ Bennett - Tollgate Cafe - Windmill Films - Warburton's Co-op Welcome - St Helens Primary School - Bembridge C E Primary School.  Our grateful thanks also to all those who ran stalls at the Street Market (& to Garry for some great music!), to everyone who donated raffle prizes and artwork, to our wonderful Guest of Honour - HM Lord-Lieutentant of the Isle of Wight, Major General Martin White CB CBE JP, and to the local community at large who supported the event, together with the bumper number of visiting boats in the Harbour.