Published: 17/08/2012 11:00 - Updated: 17/08/2012 11:28

Annual regatta could put wind in Wick harbour's sails

Written byby Will Clark

Seafest will kick off the maritime extravaganza.PLANS are at an early stage to introduce a new sailing event to Caithness following the success of Harbourfest at Wick.

The town’s Wick Harbour Authority confirmed that it is proposing to stage an annual regatta at the port and hopes to make its debut as early as next year.

The idea was inspired with the successful redevelopment of Wick marina in recent years along with events such as Harbourfest which drew thousands of visitors to the dock.

Harbourmaster Malcolm Bremner confirmed to the John O’ Groat Journal that plans for an annual sailing event were at an early stage but said that the appetite exists to make it happen.

“Harbourfest was a massive success for everyone who was involved but it is not something that could be held every year as it may become in danger of getting stale,” he said.

“After speaking with a number of yachters, who commented on the quality of the facility that exists here, the idea was suggested that we could stage a regatta every year.

“Discussions have been held with yachters in Findochty, Whitehills, Findhorn and Banff about holding races between the Moray coast and Caithness.”

The regatta is planned to be held as a two- day event on the same weekend as Wick Lifeboat Day in June.

The first day on Friday would involve a race between sailors from across the country between north-east Scotland and Wick.

The second day would have the focus on sailing off Caithness involving local boats and visitors along with a sea-angling competition.

While nothing has yet been firmed up, Mr Bremner said that the port authority is keen to turn the idea into reality.

“We are trying to put things together at the moment and discussing ways we can raise sponsorship to make it happen.

“We want to put on an event which people would like to come down and see by working alongside Wick Lifeboat Day.

“The event is all about seeing boats in action rather just watching yachts racing out of the harbour and all they see is a speck of sail.

“It’s all about creating an event where all the action will take place inside the harbour as that is what yachters like.”

The £576,000 marina in the inner basin was commissioned three years ago and was officially opened by Princess Anne in September 2009.

The 70-berth facility is promoted on a Viking trail as part of a collaboration with the operators of marinas in Inverness, Orkney and Shetland.

Caithness civic leader Gail Ross, who was heavily involved in Harbourfest earlier this year, is four-square behind the proposal.

“With the renewable industry about to come to fruition, I think that Wick Harbour has an important part to play with the regeneration of the county,” she said.

“The regatta would in no way be a substitute for Harbourfest as each would be separate entities in their own right.

“After hearing the plans from Mr Bremner, I was very excited about what might be in store and I’m in full support of it.”

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