Lowestoft yacht Leila faces rough time in 2017 Tall Ship race

Leila competing in the Tall Ship race. Picture: Richard Sibley

Leila competing in the Tall Ship race. Picture: Richard Sibley - Credit: Richard Sibley

A tall ship race proved too much of a tall order for a 125-year-old yacht, after its skipper was forced to bow out of the stern challenge.

Leila, a 42-foot Victorian gaff-rigged cutter had been competing as part of the 2017 Tall Ship race, and sailed its way to a third-placed finish in the first leg.

However, choppy waters just south of the Swedish island of Gotland left it unable to continue competing in the second leg of the race.

The yacht, which hails from Lowestoft, suffered damage in the rough seas, which caused the boom to come off its mast, leaving it in need of repairs.

Skipper David Beavan, of Southwold, said: 'It was not a big problem but we ahd to drop the sail and motor to an anchorage to fix it.

'Leila - at 125 years the oldest vessel in the fleet - came a very credible third out of 17 in class in the race, fourth out of 48 overall in the challenging 650 mile leg from Turko to Klaipeda in Lithuania.'

The damage resulted in Leila having to seek shelter for repairs in the Baltic Sea, but is now ready and poised in Klaipeda for the start of the third race, which will take it to Poland.

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Mr Beavan, who is also a sailing instructor, added: 'We are hoping for light headwinds so that she can celebrate her birthday with a win over the large Scandinavian boats in our class.'

The event, which is a highlight of the international historic boats calendar, has attracted 1,000 vessels from across the globe, with more than 100 taking part in the race.

Lelia is now operated by a charitable trust and five years ago was discovered rotting away on a Suffolk river.

However, after five years of work and an investment of more than £100,000, it is back in ship shape, having been lovingly restored.

Mr Beavan was joined on board for the race by Simon Wiseman, of Great Yarmouth YMCA and George Ray from Ipswich.

It is not the first time Leila has faced adversity while competing in the Tall Ships Race. In 2013, its engine blew just before the first competition, however, mechanics were able to locate a replacement in just three days.

Originally built in 1892, Leila numbers among the oldest sailing yachts in the country.

For more information on Leila and the Leila Sailing Trust, visit www.leila2c.org

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