Classic Cornish gig races

Classic Cornish voices

Classic Cornish luggers


Sailing luggers

Three local luggers are booked into the festival already – Barnabas, Happy Return and the Ripple.

The Barnabas recently completed a round Britain sail  – not bad for a 136 year old wooden fishing boat!  She is the only surviving example of a once 1,000 strong fleet of Cornish luggers – her dipping lug being the hallmark sail rig of many west Cornish fishing boats – incredibly efficient in any weather and designed to get the most speed when sailing to and from the fishing grounds.  many of these boats followed the shoals of herring around the coast of the UK to Ireland, the Isle of Man and as far north as Scotland. The lugger, British Workman recorded a time of 100 hours sailing from Peterhead to Cornwall – something none but the fastest racing yachts could compete with today!


Visiting classic boats are more than welcome – in the past classic boats have included the Greyhound, Iris, Our Boys, Two Boys, Karenza, Dolly Pentreath and many more.

The Ripple hoisting her aft lug sail heading for St Michael’s Mount.


Newlyn Fish Festival’s regular band of local luggers extends an open invitation to fishing luggers and traditional fishing craft to spend the Bank Holiday weekend joining in with the fun and festivities. Saturday night will see the Old Harbour host a quayside BBQ for visiting and local boats alike.  Come and hear how their are plans to make the Old Harbour a heritage base for local luggers to increase the public’s understanding of the importance of the lugger fleets to the development of the Cornish maritime economy over 150 years

Bank holiday Monday will see the Fish Festival in full swing – with Cornish gig and trawler racing during the day. There is plenty of room for visiting luggers to be in full view of the crowd – or to berth on a pontoon.

Traditional Sculling Races.

With limited space alongside the quays, most of the boats in the Cornish lugger fleets were moored at anchor in harbours like Newlyn, St Ives and Mevagissey. Each boat had its own rowing boat or skiff – which was used to ferry the crew out to the boat on its mooring.  The boats were powered by a single oar and ‘sculled’ rather than rowed.  At the end of the summer season every harbour had its own sculling race – the competition was fierce – every sculler thought he was better than the rest! Even today, when sculling races are held in St Ives everyone wants to beat John Boy Stevens!

There will be sculling demonstrations throughout the day and possibly sculling races – watch this space!

Crabber Demonstration:

There will be a static display on the Mary Williams pier of how an inshore boat fishes with pots for crab and lobster. Weather condtions permitting, there will be a display of shooting and hauling crab pots in the harbour itself. On the comfort of dry land you can test your strength and try lifting a seawater-soaked crab pot full of crab – and then imagine what it must be like to do that hauling and shooting 1200 pots in a day which is what the bigger crabbers do every day from Newlyn!

Classic Luggers Fishing Boats

Beam Trawl Demonstration:

Weather and tide pernitting – one of the port’s biggest fishing boats, the beam trawler Sapphire II will have both her beam trawls hoisted high above the working deck. These boats fish mainly for high quality flatfish like megrim, Dover and lemon soles, monk, ray and in the winter – cuttlefish!  They are at sea for short trips and land after five, seven or ten days at sea depending on their size.  They have a crew of between four and six.

Inshore shooting and hauling nets.

if the weather is favourable, the inshore boat Three Jays will shoot and haul a tier of nets in the harbour to demonstrate how the boats work their gear.  The boats use different sizes of mesh to either gill or tangle different kinds of fish. Mackerel, herring, sardines, whiting, pollack, hake, cod, coley, red mullet are caught by their gills while monk, ray and turbot are tangled in much larger meshed net.  The static display on the Mary Williams pier will also have these nets on show with information about how they are worked – and you can talk to the skipper, James!

Sardine Boat Demonstration