Whitby Regatta big and better than ever

WHITBY'S annual regatta will celebrate its 170th anniversary with what promises to be a spectacular event with the historic lifeboat, the William Riley, taking part for the first time.

The regatta programme will feature a wide variety of attractions for all the family including plenty of entertainment for the younger members.

The event runs on Saturday 21, Sunday 22 and Monday 23 August and this year it will also feature an air display with the Red Arrows, who will blast through the skies above Whitby, as well as an historic Spitfire, Hurricane and a Dakota, particularly remembered by older people from World War Two.

Even older is the lifeboat, the William Riley, now in her 101st year which will take part in the regatta's annual parade for the first time on regatta Monday.

She will be towed through the town by 30 volunteers.

Around 25 stalwart volunteers, among them local lifeboat crew members as well as members of the board of trustees, have signed up for the tow but about another five are needed.

Curator of Whitby Lifeboat Museum Pete Thomson, who is one of the volunteers said that the boat on her trailer, weighs nearly three tonnes.

Ivor Greer, vice-president of the Whitby Regatta committee, this year has included a competition for decorated cycles, prams, pushchairs and even shopping trolleys to take part in the annual parade which also sees youngsters from across Whitby don an array of fancy dress outfits too.

He said: "To use shopping trolleys, people will have to get permission from the shops they belong to, but in fact, anything on wheels can be included."

Other attractions this year at Whitby Regatta will include a car rally featuring sports, vintage and classic vehicles, a fun run, a motorcycle gymkhana including lawnmower races on the beach and a fun fair along Pier Road and on the pier.

The whole weekend culminates in a spectacular fireworks display on the Monday night.

Whitby Regatta is probably one of the oldest in England and started with local fishermen competing in races against each other in their fishing smocks and salmon cobles.

Yacht owners joined in and then in the early 1870s rowing races were started by the members of the Jet Works Amateur Rowing Club.

The event is now one of the town's foremost attractions, bringing around 20,000 visitors each year.