Over 100 classic yachts and working boats will gather in Ipswich for the 60-year celebration of the Old Gaffers Association (OGA) with a Diamond Jubilee Party from 3-6 August 2023, the culmination of a programme of OGA60 events throughout 2023.
OGA – The Association for Gaff Rig Sailing was set up in 1963 to preserve this distinctive traditional rig and to encourage the restoration and building of new boats. Today, gaff rig is becoming ever more popular with new and traditional designs emerging, while the OGA’s strong membership and area representation around Britain and overseas continues to organise rallies, racing and social events around the coast.
The 4-day OGA60 Diamond Jubilee Party will include a wide programme of activities exploring the area’s maritime history and traditions, including guided walks, visits to local boatyards, excursions to the Sutton Hoo Saxon longship museum and the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company replica build in Woodbridge.
The jubilee celebrations will kick-off with a civic reception, kindly hosted by Associated British Ports, to welcome the boats completing the OGA Round Britain Cruise (RBC60). The RBC60 starts from Ramsgate on 1 May 2023, finishing around 2 August in Ipswich. The fleet’s progress around the UK will form a thread throughout the OGA60 celebrations, linking up the OGA areas and spreading the word about the organisation, with the aim of encouraging more people to go sailing. 18 boats have already signed up to sail the whole route, with many more joining for one or more legs. Plans are in place for the fleet to be trackable online during the cruise, which will take in organised stops and celebrations at ‘Party Ports’ along the route, allowing for maximum engagement with OGA members around the UK.
A highlight of the Diamond Jubilee Party will be the Parade of Sail from Ipswich Marina downriver to Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington. Once at Levington there will be separate races and cruises for the open boats and larger boats fleets, as well as more shoreside trips and activities.
Levington will also host the very first Gaffling 4.1 dinghy International Championships. Designed specifically for the OGA by Andrew Wolstenholme, six Gafflings have already been built and it is hoped more will be completed by August. OGA members may take part even without their own boat as there will be boats available to borrow.
The Diamond Jubilee Party will finish with cake, champagne, a prize giving and an evening of food and music. There will also be the opportunity to join a short, leisurely cruise south to some of the East Coast rivers for a few days after the festivities on the Orwell.
The OGA60 Jubilee Party will offer something for everyone, whether arriving with an open boat, classic yacht, traditional working boat, “spirit of tradition” craft or land-yacht /camper van. It is expected to be a large event and organisers are encouraging anyone thinking of attending to register their interest via the Jubilee Party online form on the OGA60 page of the website or by email to Jubilee@oga.org.uk.