The Excelsior Trust – Centenary Smack Race 2022

Event Date:
Start at 12:00 AM
July 30, 2022 - July 31, 2022

On Saturday 30 July, the waters off Lowestoft Ness will be festooned with the red sails of traditionally rigged sailing smacks, as The Excelsior Trust hosts an international Smack Race. Postponed from last year, this one-off event will be staged to celebrate the centenary of Lowestoft’s own 77ft sailing vessel Excelsior LT472, an icon of the town’s national fishing heritage.

The organisers are expecting up to 25 traditional vessels in Lowestoft, including Boy Leslie BM312, former Brixham trawler built in Galmpton in 1911 and now operated as a sail training vessel in Norway; Swan LK243, former Shetland herring boat built in Lerwick in 1900 and now operated locally as a sail training vessel and the 70ft 1st Class Essex Oyster Smack Pioneer, the last of the large Essex Smacks to survive.

Traditionally a Smack Race would have been held annually in the late 1800s when Lowestoft was a fishing boom-town, but due to the decline in fishing and the increasing rarity of these historic vessels, the last event of this kind was held over twenty years ago. As there are different types of sailing smacks taking part this year, the boats will be put into different racing classes, to ensure opportunities are fair for all.

From 09.00 a spectacular close-up view of the historic vessels will be best seen from Lowestoft’s South Pier, as the smacks process through the Bascule Bridge and out to sea. The staggered start can be seen from the Sea Wall opposite Lowestoft Maritime Museum, and the progress of the various classes can be followed from Gunton Cliff as the fleet sets off around the course.

Back on Lowestoft’s South Pier, there will be a two-day ‘Vessels Festival’ taking place with stalls, music and displays reflecting the now vibrant maritime, business and arts scene in Lowestoft.

Excelsior Trust founder John Wylson said: “This will be a remarkable and truly historic event, which could be one of the last of its kind. Sadly each year the number of old wooden fishing smacks, fully restored and maintained to be seaworthy, diminishes. So let’s enjoy this wonderful collection of heritage vessels whilst we can.”

Read more about the Centenary Smack Race and download a Vessel Entry Form here.

Read more about The Excelsior Trust, one of our Shipshape Network East projects.