This film is part of Free

Bell Buoy Races at Instow

The one-design Bermudan rigged yachts take to the water at Instow for the Bell Buoy Races.

News 1936 10 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


The Bell Buoy Races are held at the Taw and Torridge Yacht Club at Instow held on the estuary at the confluence of the Torridge and Taw rivers with the markers being the navigational buoys called Newquay, Westleigh or Railway and Sprat. Bell buoys used to ring a bell triggered by the rolling of the waves. The Club adopted the new seventeen feet one-design clinker with Bermudan rig in the 1920s and raced from the Clubhouse known as the Roundhouse at Instow Quay.

The film was taken by Peggy O'Brian and Phyllis Shaw and shows the Shaw Lantern trophy being presented to Gwynnie de Crespigny. One design racing was thought up by Ben Middleton of Killiney in Ireland who in 1886 introduced the idea of mass producing a class of similar yachts so racing was a level playing field and able to showcase the talents of the crew rather than the expensive design of the boat. Among the sailing a De Havilland Gipsy Moth G-ARIM plane flies overhead and in the film is Judy Renshaw, cousin of Francis Chichester who purportedly taught him to sail. Chichester had flown to Australia in a Gipsy Moth and named the yacht in which he completed his solo circumnavigation of the world after the plane.