Water, Rivalry & Real Ale

The Falmouth Working Boats 1994 | Images & Insights | David Savage


New life for an old tradition. A couple of times a week, Falmouth harbour fills with gaff-rigged boats each bearing unique colours, each sailing new life in to an old tradition. Once used to dredge for oysters on the Truro river, and still very much in the hands of the working class, these working boats are raced by local crews. No engines, no electrics, just muscle and a want for a good wind.


When these boats sink, they go down fast. None-the-less, few crews back-off when the race is on. Stealing the wind to gain advantage and muscling the sails at a moments notice. Everything is invested to win. Close-calls and near collisions see temperatures rise and, on occasion, temperaments flare. Tack by tack, language colours and thirsts grow.

Real Ale

Racing finished, sails down and boats on their moorings… then to the pub. Tensions diminish and the sense of community which brings these seaborne tribes together thrives. Tradition, connection and identity lives strong in these people, as flavoured as the Real Ale that flows from keg to glass.


Shared experience and the building of community


For two seasons I crewed onboard the ‘Irene’ skippered by Rob Northy. I’m hugely grateful to Rob for the experience and his patience as I switched between camera and jib-line during races. I seem to remember I owe him a few pints too. The collection of images I produced became my first solo-exhibition, displayed at the Green Lawns Hotel.

When I reflect on what made the Falmouth Working Boats such a strong community, the shared experience stands out. The purpose of keeping alive these traditional boats brings people together, but it’s the shared experience of racing these boats that binds the community. Understanding it is to be part of it, out there on the water, feeling the boat move and busting a gut to quickly make the next tack.

Images & Insights

Welcome. I’m combining images and insight to explore themes on leadership, give it a real context and illustrate how it’s expressed in many different ways in everyday life. Some posts are simply thought provokers, whilst others deep-dive with a big question and a touch of brain-science.

Camera to Coach

Prior to becoming a Leadership Specialist over a decade ago, I was a photographer. I travelled with my camera and met people living in very different worlds to our own. It taught me that there are many different faces of leadership, and it taught me to keep-it-real in the training room and place people’s own life experience at the centre of their learning.

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