Mevagissey’s annual ‘Tosher’s Race’ around the bay kicked off the south Cornwall village’s annual Feast Week celebrations (25 June), reports Martin Johns.

Above: A colourful scene during the Mevagissey Trawler Race as Demelza, Provider and Diligence do battle.

The race takes its name from the local term given to the small traditional wooden boats, which used to be commonplace in days gone by.

Today’s Mevagissey fleet is considerably more diverse and includes a sizeable fleet of trawlers and netters between 10m and 15m, and a large number of netters and hand-liners, making Mevagissey comfortably the second-biggest fishing port in Cornwall after Newlyn.

The strong field of boats racing included a number of trawlers that had taken a break from working the Wolf rock trawl grounds from Newlyn, to head back to their home port, especially for the race.

The only true Tosher to take its place for the race was Petrel, skippered by long-standing time-keeper and race official Rod Ingram, who kept an eagle-eye on proceedings from his position inside the last marker buoy.

Rod calculated the handicapped start times and sent the fleet on their way at specific times.

Early starters Charlotta, Demelza and Galatea were first away from the start line at 11.30am, followed by other boats at regular intervals until the fast Cyfish 33 netter Lauren Kate flew over the start line around 20 minutes later.

The fleet of 15 boats then commenced on two laps of the bay, following a two-mile course around laid marker buoys, ending the race in full view of the hoards of spectators gathered along the pier heads of Mevagissey outer harbour.

Several boats took a wrong turn on the second lap, mistaking a marker buoy and turning seaward too early.

They swiftly turned around again to correct their course but added a few valuable minutes to their carefully calculated times.

Visiting boats are always welcomed in Mevagissey, and this year Ivan Toms brought his 13.4m wooden trawler Maxines Pride across from Looe for the race.

Winning boat was skipper Mike Brokenshire’s Lauren Kate, completing the race closest to her calculated time with Maxines Pride second and a recent addition to the local fleet, Provider, third.

Valhalla skipper David Warwick again picked up the prize for the best-dressed boat.

Feast Sunday is the first and busiest day of a week of festivities and sees a number of events taking place in addition to the Tosher’s Race.

A covered stage was set up on the end of the fish quay with a variety of artists such as a traditional sea shanty group, popular female duo A Little Twisted, and the local punk band The Momentoz performing to large crowds throughout the afternoon and well into the evening.

Other quayside events on the day included the auction of a display of fresh fish and shellfish kindly donated by Ocean Fish, stalls selling a variety of cooked seafood and the Big Fish procession, a parade of local school children and villagers winding their way through the narrow streets of Mevagissey carrying a replica fish above their heads and featuring giant mackerel, eel and lobster sculptures at the head of the parade, while dancing to the rhythmic beat of the Samba De Roselando band.

Race results

1st Lauren Kate FY 836 – Skipper Mike Brokenshire
2nd Maxines Pride FY 38 – Skipper Ivan Toms
3rd Provider FY 51 – Skipper Matt Hunkin
Best dressed boat Valhalla BH 9 – Skipper David Warwick

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