November / December 2022

The 2022 Fife Regatta

A homecoming of classic yachts


On June 14, 2022, three of the biggest boats in the Fife Regatta in Scotland—MOONBEAM IV (1914), THE LADY ANNE (1912), and MARIQUITA (1911)—sailed up the east arm of the Kyles of Bute to the starting line for the third race of the series. The boats started off Kames, and finished at Portavadie on the beautiful shores of Loch Fyne.

There is sometimes a defining moment at a regatta when you know it’s going to be one of those special memories in your life. I recently experienced this when sailing between the brace of pretty islands called the Cumbraes in the mouth of Scotland’s River Clyde, where racing out to meet us came four yachts that took our breath away.

The first was PEN DUICK VI, helmed by Marie Tabarly, daughter of the famous French yachtsman Eric who drowned on his way to this very spot in 1998. The second was the 68' (20.7m), 1903 MOONBEAM III, which passed close to starboard while the 95' (29m), 1920 MOONBEAM IV passed just to port. Thundering out close behind them was the 95' (29m), 1911 MARIQUITA, with her little lapstrake dinghy tied upside down on deck.

We waved and cheered. They waved and cheered. After all, this event was a celebration of beautiful yachts, most of them from the early 1900s and designed by William Fife III (1857–1944), who was the third generation of a family boat-design and construction dynasty; his boatyard, once opposite us on the beach at Fairlie, built some of the most beautiful and successful yachts ever seen.

One needs a yacht designed or built by Fife to enter. Some come a long way to be here. Those behind us had all sailed up from France.

For the previous week, four of us, with skipper Cornelius van Rijckevorsel, had been sailing the 1902, 51' 6" (15.7m) SIBYL OF CUMAE from Plymouth on the English South Coast, via Ireland, up to the waters of the Clyde. And now, from an anchorage on the north of the island of Arran, we were heading the last few miles to Largs, near Fairlie, where the weeklong regatta is based.

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