The annual Conwy River Festival attracts thousands of visitors to North Wales each year. Sailors and boating enthusiasts get a chance to join in club competitive racing through the Conwy Yacht Club and North Wales Cruising Club. The River Festival event is much more than a Yachting indulgence, there are events going on for all.
Below is a summery of what’s happening in 2012, and although at the time of writing this news the 2012 season is still in full swing, we are looking forward to the 2013 North Wales Boat Show which will run at the same time as the Conwy River Festival next year.
Racing for cruising yachts
There are 4 days of handicap racing for cruising yachts (6m+ in length), which are divided into one-day events, called ‘The St Dunstan’s Races’ (supported by Blind Veterans UK). The first event is on Sunday 19th August followed by a three-day series on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The racing has in the past attracted Yachts from all over North Wales, Ireland and the North West of England as well as entries from much further afield, with enthusiastic participation from Conwy and Deganwy Marinas (Berthing for competitors is provided free at one of the marinas; see race entry forms for details). The emphasis is on racing for fun and to improve your skills (rather than an endurance test), so races are short – no more than 3 hours – and courses are set out in the open waters of Conwy Bay where there’s plenty of room and little tide. There’s a class for serious competitors (‘Olympians’), a no-spinnaker class for those who want a more relaxed outing (‘Trojans’), and a beginner’s class for people who have little or no experience of racing (‘Corinthians’). The Corinthians even get a 15-minute ‘start window’ so they don’t have the pressure of a crowded start line.
Racing for day boats and small yachts
Open day racing yachts such as Squibs, Hawk 22s and others like the local Conway One-Design class have their own class (‘Athenians’) for the St Dunstan’s Races and the 3-day handicap series. They sail relatively short courses over HW, from their own start line closer inshore. New for 2012 and beyond In 2012 the Athenians will be joined by a new ‘Spartan’ class open to small yachts (under 6m in length). Athenians and Spartans will sail together but there’ll be separate prizes.
Racing for Classic Boats, Traditional fishing yachts of the Nobby and Gaffer type have always been at the heart of the Festival. Many make the journey from Liverpool and all over the North-West to join yachts from along the Welsh coast for racing in Conwy Bay. Three events are offered: a warm-up race on the first Sunday: ‘Around the Bay Day’, the Old Gaffers Race on the Wednesday, and the Nobby, Gaffer and Classics Race on the final Sunday.
There are some magnificent trophies to be won, with prizes for just about every type of boat (including trophies for particular designs, such as Best Beneteau/Jeanneau/Westerly etc) and mementos for everybody who participates.
The LA-LA Rally
The LA-LA Rally began as an accompanied cruise for yachts and motor-boats from the Liverpool Arms, Conwy to the Liverpool Arms, Menai Bridge (Anglesey) – a distance of about 12 miles – with an overnight stay in Menai Bridge. In more recent years the cruise has often been over two nights and gone right down the Menai Strait to Caernarfon, through the Swellies. Many people enjoy the Swellies in the company of more experienced sailors, and the hospitality at the Caernarfon end is usually legendary! There are tasks and activities to be completed en route with prizes for just about everyone. It’s a great way of enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery North Wales can offer, testing your boat-handling skills, and making a whole batch of new friends. This year the LA-LA Rally will leave Conwy on Thursday and return on the Saturday.