Water, Rivalry & Real Ale
The Falmouth Working Boats 1994
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.
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.
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.