In September 1995 Plymouth Classic Boat Rally was incorporated as a limited company. Also its managers were insured against loss. Andy and Ann Demaine took this wise move as they then set about taking responsibility for running the Rally for the next 13 years. It was very much a family effort with Lucy, Oliver and Tom helping greatly during the Rally with the innumerable tasks.
Andy was the sole Director and thus carried the can. Both he and all the other volunteers who worked to keep the Rally going and make it an enjoyable experience for all were unpaid. Volunteers continue to be unpaid. And it may not be fully appreciated but trying to get boat owners to support their Rally by booking and paying early is not easy. It could reasonably be compared to “herding cats”.
With the various vicissitudes of the Rally and after nursing it through many of them Andy and Ann decided it was time to leave. It was considered the best way forward was to appoint a group of Directors to maintain stability and pave the way for succession in management. So a total of five volunteers came forward, some with a little shove.
Our directors now are:
Mike Forwood, retd. P&O Ships Master with Tall Ships Licence.
Mike Jones, retd. Royal Navy, shore crew Mayflower Marina.
Nina Lilly, retd. Teacher, Commodore Saltash S.C 2015/16.
John Gallagher, retd Vet and South West Gaffers rep. (acting Secretary)
Jonathan Brice is not on the board but acts as our consultant. His encyclopaedic knowledge of boats, boat builders and trivia has proved invaluable.
However, the Rally would not run without its other stalwart volunteers which include Dave and Anne Morrish (and Josh) and Martin Jones in the ribs and George Skinner and John Rogers who run the gate. Also the many spontaneous volunteers who help with mooring up and general bits and pieces. Sadly John died recently.
Sutton Harbour Marina were keen for the Rally to move over to Sutton Harbour and they set up exhibition pontoons for the event and other significant events that might be of interest. Their sponsorship involved provision of berthing and toilet and showering facilities free of charge. This generous offer provided a lifeline to the Rally and in turn we have tried to attract an eclectic array of both sail and motor boats to provide a tourist attraction for the Harbour and Barbican area. Part of our agreement involves staying in the harbour during the Saturday of the event to let the public see our boats most of which represent the living maritime history of this country. To aid the visitor experience the public can come onto the pontoons to see the boats up close and meet crews. We also produce a handbook with pictures and a biography of all the boats as a guide which the skippers also get so they know who else is there. Each year we invite feature boats and boats of special interest as well youth training boats to encourage interest from younger people.
Sutton Harbour are thus our main and crucial sponsor. A number of local businesses advertise in our handbook and fees from this provide some income. But we have to provide insurance cover for public liability. We also organise security cover for all the boats during the night as the Barbican is a popular entertainment area. To create a carnival ambience for the Rally we arrange for live background music. Skippers are all given a welcome pack with information about the events, a rally flag and details of the racing which we organise for the Sunday and Monday with a further feeder race to Fowey Classics on the Tuesday. We have obtained a very good arrangement for race fees with the Plym Y.C. which involves only a token fee per race. Public liability insurance cover for racing is the responsibility of skippers.
The costs for all these provisions mounts and most have to paid up front some months before the Rally starts. So we charge all entrants to cover the bulk of the costs. Refunds a month before the Rally starts can given but it is not feasible beyond that time. A small fee is charged to visitors who wish to come onto the pontoons to offset the insurance costs. Also we charge a small fee for the handbook as well as gaining some income from the advertisements in it. Plymouth University sponsored the handbook for 2014 and 2015 but have been unable to continue to do so thus printing costs have to be found for this henceforward unless another sponsor can be found.
Our aim is to cover the costs of the Rally and maintain a reserve sufficient to cover the cost of one year’s Rally should some mishap occur. Our intention for the Rally is to provide a meeting point for traditional boat enthusiasts and display the variety of our maritime heritage by a gathering of old and replica traditional craft both in harbour and under sail or power in Plymouth Sound.
We have kept entry fees static for several years now and as they cover up to four nights in the marina as well as all the perks provided we still think we offer a very good value event. We have tried to keep it as the friendly rally and hope it is found to be so by all who come along.