On this page you will find some more general details about the Regattas, how it all works, and one or two sailing rules.

All regattas are held on the boating lake next to the pier, which is affectionately referred to as ‘The Pond’.

The season starts on the late May bank holiday and runs through until late August. A full list of dates is on the homepage. Each season features a wide range of different races and tournaments. These range from general races for all boats, to specific cups and championships for which certain criteria apply (age of sailor, type of boat, etc…) For a complete breakdown of all cup and race facts and figures, click on the Current Season page.

There are no club membership requirements to sail in SMYR. Sailors of any age and ability are most welcome to join in any regatta, although the ‘Cups’ Regatta is by and large aimed at adults with a bit more of a competitive edge…!

Boats of hull length 15-36 inches are eligible, of any rigs, and constructed of any materials. However, all boats must be steered purely by the manual set of the sails at the side of the pond – in other words, no radio controls or other steering mechanisms are permitted.

Most regattas have a printed programme, with entries taken a day or two in advance – please visit the homepage during the course of the season to see where entries must be delivered for each Regatta. You can just come along on a regatta day before the start but boats are issued on a first come first served basis, so it’s best to book in advance if you can. Do also note that first two regattas of every season (those on the late May Bank Holiday Monday, and the last Wednesday in July) and the Final Regatta are all ‘Pick-Up’ Regattas, which are just organised on the day and require no entries in advance.

A regular race is across the pond and back (a ‘reach’ or ‘beat’ tack, sailing into the wind, followed by a return ‘run’ with the wind behind you). Therefore sailors are obliged to run around the pond, catch their boat and turn it, before re-setting the sails for the return course. This sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is – after a couple of practice runs you will soon have the hang of it.

Its best to arrive at each Regatta at least 30 minutes before the start time, to allow for some practice and to get your boat sailing how you want it!

Prizes are in the form of tokens for 1st and 2nd place, which can then be exchanged for memorabilia, souvenirs, and vouchers for shops on Southwold High Street. You can exchange tokens at the end of each regatta, but those who compete at more than one regatta often save them up throughout the season. A boat can also win a Burgee for gaining three firsts in a season, and of course trophies are awarded for the bigger tournament and championship races.

Club boats – for those interested in sailing who do not own their own boat, we have a number of competitive boats owned by the club which are reserved specifically for newcomers, and children in particular. All club sailors are very friendly and will happily lend a hand to new sailors. Young sailors are also allowed help during races from mums and dads or other helpers. If you are just curious to find out more, you’re very welcome to drop by to ask a few questions and see what goes on.

You can sail more than one boat at each Regatta – for 18s and under, up to 4 boats, and for over 18s its three. In any championship or cup race, you can enter a maximum of two boats. There is a charge of £2 per boat, per day, which will get you two regular races, plus whatever cups taking place on that day that it is eligible for. (The money raised from entry fees basically pays for the prizes, and helps maintain the pond and its surrounds). There is no charge for borrowing club boats.

Boats come in many different shapes and sizes and are arranged into three ‘Classes’ according to size – technically anyone can sail any size of boat – at least on an ‘ad hoc’ basis – but sailors older than their class age cannot qualify for or win a championship. By convention, and in the interests of fairness, smaller boats are usually sailed by younger children, as follows:

Class C – ages 13 and under, boats of hull length 15 to 20 inches;

Class B – ages 18 and under, boats of hull length 21 to 26 inches;

Class A – all ages, boats of hull length 27 to 36 inches.

Boats are released by handicap according to hull length (smaller boats going first), thus levelling the playing field within boat classes. Its therefore essential that all sailors remember their boat length and let go at the right time! If you have any doubt about your boat’s length, a member of the SMYR committee can measure it for you when you come to the pond.

Different rigs. Any type of boat rig can sail in any Regatta. In a regular programme of races each rig sails against its own type in the first half of the programme, and then all are mixed together in the second half.

Regattas are organised by an appointed Commodore-of-the-Day, who’s job it is to draw up the programme of races, and make sure the day runs smoothly and (very occasionally!) mediate in disputes between sailors of a more competitive nature…! The Commodore-of-the-Day is in turn assisted by the Starter who is responsible for making sure the boats are released correctly according to the handicap system. (SMYR overall is run by a committee of half a dozen or so enthusiasts, chaired by the Commodore and organised by the Secretary. An Annual General Meeting, open to anyone with an interest in the regattas, is held on the first Saturday in August after the Cups Regatta).

As there is no way of steering one’s boat after you have let it go, there are occasional collisions between boats in the middle of the pond. This is a part of model yacht sailing and it happens to everyone sooner or later. If half the boats in a race collide on the outgoing leg, or a boat still in competition for a place is involved in a collision on the return leg, the Commodore may order a ‘Re-Sail!’ Everyone must then take their boats out and the race is repeated from the start. Any collision of any sort in a cup or championship race is an automatic re-sail.

Finally – are you still thirsty for more information? One of the joys of model yacht sailing is that it is very easy to pick up but, like regular sailing, it contains no end of fascination for those who are more technically minded. You’ll find all the detailed rules and regulations of the Regattas in the Handbook, or you can see a gallery of photographs by clicking here. We are working on some video footage of races (it is very difficult to get an impression from photos alone of just how fast these boats move, and how beautiful and graceful they look when doing so) as well as a History page, which will be coming soon…

Then pop down to a Regatta, chat to other sailors, and have a go!