Book Your Stay X

Make the Classic Boat Rally a visit to remember

28th July 2016

The first Classic Boat Rally was held in Plymouth in1988 and rapidly became a significant event in the national boating calendar drawing entrants from across the UK and overseas visitors from Germany and Brittany. In 2006 Sutton Harbour began to host the event and this year it celebrates 10 years in this natural waterfront amphitheatre-like harbour.

Every year the event attracts much attention from all aspects of the media with local BBC and ITV networks setting up camp at the Rally and broadcasting live. That attention results in thousands of visitors to the historic Sutton Harbour and the adjacent old Barbican area of Plymouth.

But no longer is it simply about the boats and their visiting crews. The event has extended onto the ancient cobbles and now plays host to shoreside activity that can entertain all members of the family for hours on end. Here is a taster of what is to come – and some ideas to make the very most of your visit to the Sutton Harbour Classic Boat Rally…….

Tall Ship Nao Victoria…

The star attraction at the weekend-long event will be the Nao Victoria, an exact replica of the first ship to ever sail around the world. The Nao Victoria is making her first ever visit to the UK to berth in Sutton Harbour for three weeks this summer, and is arriving just before the 29th annual rally takes place.

  1. She is one of the most famous ships in history of navigation.
  2. The Nao Victoria was the first vessel to successfully circumnavigate the globe in 1522 as part of Magellans Expedition. The Spanish carrack set sail from Seville on 10 August 10, 1519 as one of five ships in the expedition, which aimed to find a new westbound route to reach the ‘Spice Islands’ – now known as Indonesia. Three years on, the Victoria was the only ship to return to Spain. The remaining 18-man crew on board were unaware they had completed the first ever round-the-world voyage.
  3. The 27-metre long, three-masted replica is an exact copy of the 16th century original with four decks, 290 square metres of sail, and a main beam measuring 6.7 metres.
  4. Watch a film of her here > 

Visitors will be able to board the Nao Victoria from 10am until 7pm every day whilst she is berthed in Sutton Harbour. Tickets will cost £4 for adults, £2 for children under 11, and entry is free for children under five. Visit for advance bookings.

Entertainment on the cobbles… 

  1. Demonstrations by East Devon crab pot maker Dave French on the quayside by Quay Square. Dave is a fifth generation Withy Pot maker who can trace the making of these pots in his family back by four generations. This 400 year old heritage craft involves producing each pot from willow grown in Somerset, and Dave will demonstrate the techniques involved.
  2. Demonstrations by traditional wooden boat builder Marcus Lewis from Fowey, Cornwall. Marcus builds, restores, repairs and maintains wooden boats working with traditional designs and specialises in the production of wooden masts and spars, including booms, bowsprits, gaffs, sprits and flagpoles. Marcus will be making oars and other pieces on the quayside and talking about his craft.

Music on the Harbourside… 

  1. Sutton Harbour is delighted to welcome Louis Bernard, a 13 year old singer and guitar player from Turnchapel, who uses a loop pedal and effects to produce a unique sound. Recent Gigs have included the Clovelly Bay Cider and Sausage Festival.
  2. 2pm-6pm. Live music, with guests performing from the pontoons adjacent to Capn Jaspers, including:
  3. Michael Campari
  4. Sunnyside Up
  5. Duncan Argyle and Lucy Pell
  6. Andy Brice
  7. Marcus Hicks
  8. Doc Wallace
  9. Karen Howell and Russell Westcott
  10. Doctor Cox and the Fox
  11. Bar Rakuda, The Blues bar and grill, The Live Lounge and The Ship Inn will also host a variety of music over the weekend – follow their social media for updates.

Classic Boats… 

This year, the hugely popular event has an especially strong focus on maritime history, with many of the expected 70 or more boats taking part from July 29th -August 1st being more than 100 years old and featured on the National Register of Historic Ships.

This years rally will feature luggers, schooners, classic sail and motor boats, dingies, gaff rigged boats, pilot cutters, yawls, bermudan rigs, lifeboats and even steamboats.

Special guests include three grand Island Trust Vessels – Tectona, a large ketch built solidly of teak in South India; Pegasus, a replica Bristol Channel pilot cutter, and Moosk, a recently refitted gentlemans cruiser built 100 years ago.

The magnificent Brixham sailing trawler, Vigilance, is joining the rally following a recent restoration of this powerful vessel, which once formed part of the renowned Brixham fishing fleet.

Four retired lifeboats, included on the National Register of Historic Ships, are taking part, along with the first ever visit by steamboats, with the British-built Halcyon and Quetzel, built in 1920 and 1930 respectively, chugging into the harbour.

Visitors to the Sutton Harbour Classic Boat Rally can enjoy access to the Sutton Harbour Marina pontoons from 10am until 5pm on Saturday, July 30th and Sunday, July 31st so they can view all of the boats in the rally.

Entry to the pontoons costs £2 for adults, £1 for children, and £2 for a programme, or a family ticket (4 people) including programme is £6. All profits go to the non-profit Plymouth Classic Boat Rally organisation.

To inspire the children…

  1. A traditional fairground carousel in Quay Square
  2. Storytelling shows by Emma Spurgin Hussey of Bedlam Theatre Company, Cornwall. Emmas stories of the Devon and Cornwall coast are packed with piracy and pilchards, celebrating the maritime history of the region, and will be bringing the rally to life as she entertains listeners.
  3. Dressing up is fun when youre in Sutton Harbour! Were known for themed days such as the Plymouth Pirate Weekend. Thats why entertainer Marilyn Grose will be helping you to dress up and get your face painted and you can choose from Pirates to Parrots and everything in between!
  4. Science buskers from the National Marine Aquarium roaming the harbour and quayside area. Watch live experiments and see some marine creatures at close quarters.
  5. Messy Cart offering maritime-themed arts and crafts workshops. Kids can get crafty and enjoy making and decorating wooden sailing boats, layering colourful sea life sand ornaments, decorating nautical bags and painting ceramic boating money boxes.
  6. Busking performances by Louis Bernard. This 13 year old singer and guitar player from Turnchapel uses a loop pedal and effects to produce a unique sound.
  7. Face painting from the Encore team in Quay Square, costing £2 per face.

The Schedule…

Friday 29th July

Arrival of boats throughout the day.

Saturday 30th July

The pontoons will be open to the public from 10.00 until 17.00.

The boats will be dressed overall and at midday will raise their sails and blow their horns. There will be live music on the main pontoon in the afternoon.

Sunday 31st July

Parade of Sail and Power and Racing boats will start to leave the Harbour at 12.00. The parade starts at 13.00 and will sail passed the Citadel and along.

Racing in the Sound starts at 13.45 with staggered starts for each group. The pontoons will again be open to the public from 10.00 until 17.00 and there will music during the afternoon.

Monday 1st August

Racing in the Sound. Boats will leave the Harbour from 12.00 for a staggered starts beginning 13.00.

Find out more about events and entertainments taking place during the Sutton Harbour Plymouth Classic Boat Rally by visiting or Sutton Harbours regularly updated website at

Dont forget to follow @Sutton_Harbour on Twitter or on Facebook at for live updates.