Historic yacht to celebrate launch at Southwold

SHE was a racing yacht that was the talk of the Victorian and Edwardian sailing fraternity.

And now the 119-year old Leila is set to be the talk of the sailing world again as she celebrates her launch at Southwold harbour and a �150,000 restoration.

Tomorrow a launch party will be held at Southwold Harbour to mark the near completion of a major restoration project which has been running for four years.

The Leila, a Victorian gaff cutter and the fifth oldest sailing yacht in the UK on the National Historic Ships Register, was due be lowered into the harbour yesterday - with Saturday's party celebrating the momentous occasion.

Owned by the Leila Sailing Trust, she is being extensively restored at Harbour Marine Services and the elegant vessel is due to take to young people from the region out to sea next year.

Skipper David Beavan said: 'It will be a milestone for the trust. There were times we thought it might never happen. We were finding more and more rot.'

After her launch the Leila will need another �20,000 to fit her out and make sure she complies with safety regulations.

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Saturday's party at the Southwold Sailing Club starts from 4pm with people being encouraged to dress up as pirates. There will be games, competitions, stall and teas.

A blessing of the boat service will be held at 6pm by the Rev Simon Pitcher of the Sole Bay ministry team. There will be live music from 9pm.

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