In the quest to find Yorkshire’s champions of the sea, Whitby’s fishermen have issued a challenge to land the heaviest fish, row the fastest boat, and compose the greatest fishing song at Whitby’s Fish & Ships Festival on 18 – 19 May 2019, in association with Seafish.
There are three prizes at stake, all to be decided on Sunday 19 May, and designed to test a range of seafaring skills. Visitors can either cheer on their chosen champions, or take part themselves to claim one of the coveted crowns, and there’s also a children’s crown up for grabs, as Whitby Museum seeks the best Lego boat-builder.
“All three competitions have their roots in local tradition, giving many generations of Whitby’s hard-working fishing families a chance to have fun together, as well as show off their expertise!” explains Janet Deacon, Tourism and Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome To Yorkshire.
“As part of its celebration of Whitby’s fishing heritage, the Fish & Ships Festival is bringing the three different disciplines together in one event; but we’re also really looking forward to opening the competitions up, bringing new fishing friends into Whitby’s family through the festival! Whether spectating or taking part, festival visitors can expect plenty of entertainment and drama during the competitions, alongside amazing seafood, madcap street theatre, awe-inspiring artworks, live music, and fireworks in what promises to be a seaside spectacular of a weekend.”
The three fishermen’s challenges are:
- In a special open event between 10am–4pm, Whitby Sea Anglers Association has set the challenge to land the heaviest single fish. The sea-angling competition is taking place between Filey and Skinningrove, with the weigh-in held between 4pm–5pm at Whitby’s Fish Market on Pier Road, and a prize haul of £1,000 for the winner, thanks to the Quayside restaurant.
- From 12 noon, the men, women and children of Whitby Fishermen’s Amateur Rowing Club will battle to win in six races against the town’s Friendship Rowing Club, starting out at sea with the finish-line at Whitby’s Fish Pier, by the Lifeboat Station. The rowing races are an old local tradition dating back almost 150 years, with both clubs founded by local fishermen to show off their boat-handling skills.
- Fishermen are also seeking a new Song for Sea, either a toe-tapping shanty or a soulful sea-ballad celebrating Whitby’s fishing heritage. The Great North Songwriting Competition is open to everyone (although entrants need to register in advance), with judging taking place between 12 noon and 2pm at Whitby Library, and the winner performing alongside some of the world’s greatest maritime musicians on the main stage at the festival’s finale concert later that afternoon.
“Whitby’s seafood deserves to be on a gourmet map of Britain, and it’s all down to the skill of our fishing men and women!” says Adrian Fusco, sponsor of the sea-angling competition whose family has owned multi award-winning restaurants in Whitby for over 50 years, including the Quayside, winner of the accredited UK’s ‘Fish & Chip Shop of the Year’ (2014).
“Fishing’s a way of life here – from its boat-builders, to its celebrated chefs and famous fish & chip shops – and there’s always plenty of friendly competition. We all want Whitby to be the best – it brings our town together, and that’s what makes it so special. That’s why we’re setting our different festival challenges – not just to showcase seafaring skills, but as a huge celebration of Whitby’s fish and ships!”