For quarter of a century, the Looe Lugger Regatta has been held every two years and in June, 23 luggers and several former luggers gathered to race around a triangular course in Looe Bay.
In the first two races, the 40ft Guide Me sailed around the course an extra time, but next day, in a force 5 westerly with a swell coming into the Bay, she had to work harder to keep ahead of the 41ft Isle of Man nobby Gladys and the 64ft 3-masted lugger Grayhound. The Guide Me, sailed with Judy Brickhill at the tiller, still won. Although the Grayhound was the only 3-master that arrived at the start she was awarded the prize for the new class for 3-masted luggers.
This summer, Marcus and Freya Rowden’s Grayhound has been chartered by the French company Trans Ocenic Wind Transport to carry cargoes and passengers across the English Channel under sail, using the engine as little as possible. The first cargo, 4tonne of Exeter Brewery’s Ale was loaded at Brixham in May and was bound for Douarnenez. As well as passenger work, the Grayhound was chartered to carry freight to France every month. Next year, there are plans for her to take cargoes to Portugal and Spain.
The Guide Me and Gladys do not have engines so that to get into Looe Harbour in a head wind they tacked up to the narrow harbour mouth, came up into the wind, and just kept the mizzen set while the crew rowed like mad to keep the bows into the wind and the tide swept them up to the West Looe quay. Marcus Rowden skilfully ghosted the Grayhound into the Cement Pile Quay at East Looe under main and mizzen.
At the Falmouth Classics the week before, Marcus had sailed the Grayhound with gallants and all sails set right into the Yacht Marina. The Grayhound has standing lugsails, but when tacking the fores’l has to be brailed over the mainmast stay.
At Looe, the 28ft Polperro gaffer Maggie won the Class for under 30ft. She was built at West Looe by Peace in 1901 and was later sold as a yacht, but she is now kept back in Polperro and is the first Polperro Gaffer based there almost within living memory. Dave Cowan, and Mike Berry, whose great-great-grandfather had originally owned the Maggie, now own her.
In Portugal, the Millbrook boat builder Chris Rees exchanged his Polperro Gaffer Vilona May for the 40ft Three Brothers that was built at Mevagissey in 1901 for owners in Folkestone, from where she fished until 1960. Chris ‘pumped’ the Three Brothers back to Millbrook and has rigged her out as a dandy, with a gaff on the mainmast and a standing lug on the mizzen.