This summer, 2013, a fleet of magnificent wooden yachts will be sailing into Argyll’s Secret Coast in the Cowal peninsula, a little-known corner of the west coast of Scotland that’s steeped in nautical history.
The Fifes, considered the world’s most prestigious classic yachts, are coming from across the globe to compete in the Fife Regatta 2013.
Resplendent in gleaming varnish-work and polished brass, the boats, ranging from 20 to 100ft in length, will be a striking sight as they race through the glistening sea lochs of this enchanting part of the world.
Local people are organising viewpoints and onshore festivities, sponsored by Event Scotland as part of the Year of Natural Scotland, to encourage visitors to come and enjoy the spectacle in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: ‘In 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, the Fife Regatta will showcase Scotland’s beautiful landscapes as yachts sail along Argyll’s Secret Coast. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and the setting will certainly lend itself to what will undoubtedly be a spectacular gathering of boats.’
The boats will spend three days of the regatta – Monday 1st July, Tuesday 2nd July and Wednesday 3rd July – on Argyll’s Secret Coast. There will be a host of celebrations, including a street party with local food, a pipe band and a Scottish skiff rowing race. The hotels, cafés and restaurants will be pulling out all the stops to make it an unforgettable three days.
1st July: Colintraive, Kyles of Bute, Tighnabruaich
On Monday afternoon the boats will sail into the seaside village of Tighnabruaich where the crews and all their supporters will spend the afternoon and evening ashore.
Visitors will be able to see the yachts as they sail through the Kyles of Bute – and the view from the Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park at Colintraive should be fabulous [with the sculptures as a massive bonus] – and then up close when they anchor next to the pier at Tighnabruaich.
The Tighnabruaich Hotel will be a hive of activity. Situated on the seafront at the heart of the village, it will be the venue for the day’s street party celebrations.
2nd July: Loch Fyne, Portavadie Marina
On Tuesday morning the boats will set sail en-masse, round Ardlamont Point into Loch Fyne. This will be a truly breath-taking sight against the backdrop of the Isle of Bute.
They’ll be heading to Portavadie Marina where they’ll spend the night.
Visitors will be able to follow their progress from a number of viewpoints along the coast, stopping off for refreshments at the cafés and hotels on the way.
3rd July: Racing in Loch Fyne, Portavadie Marina, Otter Ferry
On Wednesday, the yachts will race in Loch Fyne, so Portavadie Marina is the place to be.
Weather permitting the larger Fifes will head up Loch Fyne to the Oystercatcher at Otter Ferry. This pub sits right on the beach and is an ideal spot to for visitors to relax with a Fyne Ale and wait for the big boats to arrive.
And the Waverley will paddle in
To complement the history and glamour, the Waverley, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world, will be in town on Wednesday. It has been magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks and gleaming brass and will be offering cruises from Tighnabruaich – a great way to see the Fifes in all their glory.
Photographers and a competition
Photography enthusiasts should put the dates firmly in their diaries, as this is a unique opportunity to capture images of the beautiful boats amid magnificent Argyll scenery.
The Tighnabruaich Art Gallery is running a photography competition this summer with the theme ‘Sailing on Argyll’s Secret Coast’ and there will be a special category for photos of Fifes. The gallery will also be showing an exhibition of art inspired by the west coast landscape as part of the regatta celebrations.
Tighnabruaich resident Donald Clark, who is helping to organise the event, says: ‘It’s going to be a fantastic few days. We hope that visitors will come from far and wide to see these magnificent boats, join in the onshore celebrations and enjoy all that our area of outstanding natural beauty has to offer.’
The Fifes are coming to Argyll’s Secret Coast. See you there.
The Fifes and Argyll’s Secret Coast
The Fife Regatta is a unique event taking place in and around the Firth of Clyde every five years. It’s as much a homecoming and a celebration of great Scottish sailing as it is a competition.
The Fifes were designed and built by one of Scotland’s most famous boat builders, William Fife, in Fairlie in the Clyde Estuary during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Fife was a master of his craft whose customers include royalty and the tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton. Many of his magnificent boats still sail today, and this dazzling seven-day event is a chance to celebrate their great beauty in the waters of their birth.
Boats will be travelling from as far afield as New Zealand and the US to take part in the event. Two fabulous boats, Kentra and Astor, celebrate their 90th birthdays this year. Kentra, an 80ft Fife that’s been stored in Fairlie for nearly seven years, is being re-launched for the regatta; and Astor will be coming all the way from California for the occasion.
Argyll’s Secret Coast is tucked away on the south-west tip of the Cowal Peninsula on Scotland’s west coast. It’s an area of stunning beauty, yet not many people know about it. Life here revolves around the sea and these are world-class sailing waters. The area’s main village, Tighnabruaich, was a boat-building centre in the early 20th century, and sailing continues to be a compelling part of life today.