Despite a frustrating day at sea on Sunday, waiting for the wind to arrive, the overall consensus of opinion was that the Looe Lugger Regatta was one of the most successful on record.

Looe Lugger Regatta 2011

Article about the Looe Lugger Regatta 2011 provided by John Collings

Despite a frustrating day at sea on Sunday, waiting for the wind to arrive, the overall consensus of opinion was that the Looe Lugger Regatta was one of the most successful on record.

‘We had two excellent races on Saturday when the weather was ideal,’ 

said Paul Greenwood at the close of the Cornish Lugger Association’s biennial regatta.

‘Sunday was a bit disappointing because the boats had to hang around in the bay until mid-afternoon but we still managed to get a race in.’

This year’s largest gathering of traditional sailing vessels had travelled to the South East Cornwall port from as far afield as France.

In years gone by, the solid wood, Cornish-built fishing fleet would have worked the English Channel fishing grounds under sail, and the regatta’s origins date back to the times when the boats vied to become the first back in port to land the day’s catch.

Former Looe fishermen Greenwood and Mike Darlington were among the founders of the Association more than 20 years ago, when they vowed to give the distinctive boats a new lease of life, rather than let them rot away, discarded in faraway creeks.

Highlight of the weekend was Georgés Yvon’s giant 60-ft lugger, La Cancalaise, an impressive three-masted vessel measuring 60-ft overall, which sailed from Cancale in France.

Built in 1987, La Cancalaise is an exact replica of the last of the original French sailing and fishing bisquines. But the majority of boats attending the regatta were original luggers (boats which sailed to the fishing grounds under lug rigs, hence their rather unusual name).

It was the seamanship skills of Gweek, near Helston duo Jon and Judy Brickhill and their crew who stole the French thunder with an immaculate sailing display which saw them walk off with the principal trophies.

The Brickhills’ Looe-built lugger, Guide Me, was also celebrating her 100th birthday and the couple received a special birthday cake at the end of Sunday night’s get-together on the Fish Market when Mayor and Mayoress of Looe David and Annette Bryan presented the trophies. Looe Town Council also donated the plaques for the visiting skippers.

The Guide Me has sailed extensively across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the East Coast of the States – despite having no engine.

Built by Peter Ferris on the quayside at Looe in 1911 for the Pengelly family, she is 40-ft overall with a Cornish Dipping Lug rig. The Brickhills found her in the spring of 1977, discarded up Fareham Creek.

‘We knew she was a proper Looe lugger by her shapely hull but it was only after we’d bought her and motored her down to the Helford to start rebuilding her, that we discovered a little more of her history,’ recalls Judy.

A pilchard driver and long-liner, she fished out of various South East Cornwall harbours until being sold on to the Solent in 1966.

Race results


Large luggers, over 30-ft (all Marshall Estate Agency trophies)

• Guide Me (Jon and Judy Brickhill, Gweek, near Helston)
• Reliance (Deena Russell, Penryn)
• Ocean Pearl (Nick Gates, Emsworth, Hampshire).

Medium luggers (all Looe Fish Selling trophies)

• Vilona May (Chris Rees, Millbrook)
• George Glasson (Colin Crabb, Looe)
• Rose of Argyll (Benôit Cayla, Douarnenez, France)

Small luggers

• Twilight (Peter Bagnell, Sidmouth
• Percy Mitchell (Ali Green, Beer, East Devon) (Looe Chamber of Commerce Trophy)
• Moondance (Geoff Pook, Beer)

First Looe-built lugger (Looe Sailing Club Cup)

• Guide Me

First across the starting line (Derek Foster Trophy)

• Our Daddy (Mike Darlington, Looe)

Best endeavour (Alan Pape Trophy)

• I.R.I.S (Tony Knights, Brixham)

Concours d’elegance (Richard Pengelly Trophy, for the best turned-out boat as judged by the Pengelly family)

• Ocean Pearl

Sportsman’s Trophy (donated by Richard Vasey of Astins Sailing Trophiers)

• Silver Stream (Robert and Pearl Simper, Woodbridge, Suffolk)

Oldest skipper (Edwin Matthews Family Cup)

• Robert Simper

Oldest boat (Looe Sailing Club Cup)

• Spinaway, (Graham Butler, Cawsand)
Named after a famous race horse and described in her fishing days as ‘The fastest piece of wood in Polperro’. This Polperro Gaffer was built by Peter Ferris in 1896.

Boat which came fartherest by sea (Norman Pengelly Shield)

• La Cancalaise (Georgés Yvon, Cancale, France)

Pegasus Shield (Looe Fishermen’s Protection Association)

• Happy Return (Mark Mitchell, Penzance)

Spirit of the Regatta (Barnabas Trophy)

• Gem (Jo Ashbridge, Penryn)


Photographs of the Looe Lugger Regatta can be found on

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