Marking 200 years of safer sailing at Bell Rock

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AS PART of Arbroath’s Year of the Light celebrations marking the bicentenary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, a flotilla of sailing craft will make the voyage from Arbroath Harbour to the Bell Rock Lighthouse this summer.

Arbroath Sailing and Boating Club’s Year of the Light Regatta on Saturday, June 18, will include the Bellrock 200, an early morning race from Arbroath Harbour to the Bell Rock Lighthouse and back, with trophies for the winning yacht and the runner-up.

“The Bellrock 200 will start at 8.30 p.m. and we would expect the fastest yachts to be returning to the harbour by 12 noon,” said Clive Wedge of Arbroath Sailing and Boating Club.

“For those who prefer a more leisurely sail, the regatta will also include a relaxing afternoon cruise to the Bell Rock which we’re hoping will attract many different types of vessels. In the evening, there will be entertainment, a bar and a buffet in a nearby hall, where the prizes and commemorative plaques will be presented.”

Clive explained that the crews of each vessel competing in the Bellrock 200 or participating in the cruise will be presented with a specially-commissioned Year of the Light plaque celebrating the completion of the Bell Rock Lighthouse in 1811.

“Until 200 years ago, sailing off the coast of Arbroath was a very tricky proposition as the deadly reef commonly known as the Bell Rock lay in wait for unsuspecting mariners,” he added.

“However, once the Bell Rock Lighthouse was operational and able to warn vessels of the danger lurking below the waves, sailing around the Bell Rock became much less risky, although it’s still a stretch of sea where sailors have to have all their wits around them, especially in race conditions.

“The Year of the Light Regatta will provide sailors from near and far with the opportunity to highlight the difference the Bell Rock Lighthouse has made to sailing on the east coast of Scotland and to join in with the bicentenary celebrations of this iconic lighthouse.”

Harry Simpson, chair of the Year of the Light Committee, which, supported by Angus Council’s Local Community Planning Team is co-ordinating the events taking place in Arbroath to celebrate the bicentenary of Bell Rock Lighthouse, revealed that he was looking forward to enjoying a bird’s eye view of the Year of the Light Regatta from his office at Mackay’s Boatyard.

“As well as the yachts participating in the Bellrock 200, there will be vessels sailing out to the Bell Rock all day and pleasure boats taking people out to see the Bell Rock,” said Harry. “All these boats sailing out from the harbour will be a fabulous sight to behold.”

To find out more about the Year of the Light Regatta, or to register for the race or the cruise, visit www.arbroathsailingandboatingclub.org.uk or e-mail Markhill699@btinternet.com .

For more information about the Year of the Light, which is sponsored by JD Wetherspoon, or to download the programme of special events taking place in Arbroath this year to mark the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, visit www.angusahead.com/bellrocklighthouse