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On the Water
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What are the Old Gaffers?
Since the 17th century, yachts and many fishing boats favoured the Gaff rig, where the mainsail has a spar at the top (the gaff, hence gaffer), and at the bottom, (the boom).
In the 1920s a triangular mainsail with a boom at the bottom only (the Bermudan rig) was developed and now most yachts and dinghies have this rig. Many Gaffers, however, have been preserved and today they are being built in modern materials.
There are numerous variations of Gaff rig, from the Thames Barge to the very popular Optimist dinghy, both employing a Spritsail. There is also the Lugsail which was very popular with fishing vessels. The Lugsail can be seen on the little Scows, the dinghies sailed locally, mostly in the River Yar.
In 1959 three Gaffer skippers organised their own race in the Solent and did so each year with more and more entrants. The OGA (Old Gaffers Association) now boasts over 1,400 members in the UK.

Where to Watch the Sailing.
Watching the Old Gaffers race is a wonderful spectacle.
In Yarmouth, the Common at the top of the High Street is a good place to see the sailing that takes place East of the Harbour.
Norton Beach; which can be reached via the Harbour Taxi, or by walking across the Yar Bridge towards Freshwater is a lovely spot to see the racing West of the Harbour entrance.
Yarmouth Pier is a great vantage point too - just don't forget to drop your payment into the collection box!
Our map shows many of these locations, or ask the volunteers in the Square for directions.

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Want to enter your boat?
We welcome entrants from a wide range of classes, levels of experience, local and visiting boats.
For more information about the Regatta programme, please contact the Solent Gaffers team at the OGA for more information.


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Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival. A community event run entirely by volunteers, we are nationally recognised and attract thousands of visitors to West Wight. Celebrating All Things Maritime in 2017.

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