Pill Regatta group hope to raise thousands for much-needed boat upgrades

PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 June 2018

Pill Regatta

Pill Regatta

Archant

Pill Regatta organisers hope to raise £20,000 to upgrade its boats and to continue to help the village ‘flourish’.

Pill RegattaPill Regatta

The regatta is a historic event in Pill which has been running on and off since the 1830s.

It was started by the Pill Pilots as an opportunity to showcase its seamanship skills but over the years it has matured into a popular, traditional event which encourages people to enjoy the river safely.

Regatta chairman Louise Dixey told the Times: “When it was restarted 30 years ago, boats had to be borrowed from Michael Hills Marina in Bath.

“We soon realised this, while much appreciated, was a logistical nightmare and so we built a fleet of boats ourselves.”

Pill RegattaPill Regatta

The Pill Regatta fleet is made up of whalers, skiffs and tubs.

Louise said over the years the whalers, which are large sturdy craft boats which hold up to four rowers and a cox, have ‘taken a bashing’ as one of the more popular and more difficult boats.

The committee has launched its Keep Pill Regatta Afloat campaign to purchase new, bigger boats or to rejuvenate its fleet.

It has had backing from businesses including The Kings Arms, Star Inn and The Duke Of Cornwall, as well as a donation from the Owls Of Pill.

Pill RegattaPill Regatta

But Regatta Day, which this year is on June 23, will be the group’s main fundraiser with a fun run, a classic car show, tug of war competition and a social row from Pill to Sea Mills and back.

Louise said: “We have to aim for at least £20,000 but on the strict principle we cut our cloth accordingly.

“The one new boat which will definitely be purchased will be with money raised by the staff and customers of the Duke of Cornwall. If we have enough to proceed with four boats, we will, otherwise it will be massive work on the existing ones plus the new one.

“It takes an exhausting amount of effort to keep great local traditions like the rag, the owls, the Christmas lights, Mayday, wassail and regatta flourishing.

Pill RegattaPill Regatta

“However, Pill is a community which enjoys its fun days and is a better, healthier community because of these opportunities to join in and be part of village life.

“The regatta is an inclusive event giving the opportunity for anyone who can get into a boat, even needing assistance, to have a go at something they may never have experienced before.”

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