Sand yachting made a triumphant return to the Fylde coast, 13 years after a tragedy which saw it banned.
Following a campaign from local enthusiasts, Fylde Council granted a licence allowing the activity to return, and clubs around the country took to the sands at St Annes this weekend in a series of demonstration races.
It comes after a ban was put in place following the death of 38-year-old Carole Cruz, who was hit by a sand yachter on the beach in 2002.
Graham Dalzell, secretary of the York club, helped organise the weekend’s events, which featured 11 10-minute races for mini yachts.
He said: “It’s been a wonderful event and we’re delighted to see sand yachting back in Lytham.
“We’re very grateful the council has let us hold the event to show we can run these things safely.
It’s been a wonderful event and we’re delighted to see sand yachting back in Lytham
“We had very controlled conditions with the whole area cordoned off, a lot of marshals and very competent pilots.”
Pilots of all ages, sexes and physical abilities competed against one another in two classes – the ‘spirit’ class for classic little yachts – and the ‘sport’ class for the more modified crafts.
Some 22 yachts were registered and 17 actually raced in a three or four-sided 600m course – four in the sport category and 17 in the spirit events.
Mr Dalzell said: “It’s a wonderfully inclusive sport. We get people competing aged from eight to well into their 70s, and people who are paralysed from the waist down.
“It’s also great as a spectator sport. We had big crowds down watching us, so it’s great for tourism.
“The only downside was that we didn’t get a lot of wind, so we ended up getting stuck a few times.”
As well as sand yachters, there were displays from kite boarders and kite buggie riders.
Mr Dalzell said: “The next step is to get a club formed. We’re now inviting people to register their interest and we want to run a taster session. We also need to speak to the council and agree a set of rules. There will probably be a tighter set of rules than any other club in the country because of what’s happened.
“We want to be a club for all wind sports, and want to work with a common code of practice.”
The winner of the Sport Class was Ian Dibden, followed by Chris Wright, with Martin McDonald of the York club in third.
In the hotly-contested spirit class the winner was David Hare, from Glasgow, followed by Mike Hampton with Andy Parr, from Wales, in third.
Mr Dalzell added: “We are very grateful for the mayor, Coun Kevin Eastham for presenting the prizes, to councillors Sue Fazakerly and Howard and Karen Henshaw for their encouragement and to Fylde Council for their support in running both the demonstration event and this regatta.”
The next step is to re-form a club to cater for all windsports on the beach. For those interested in joining the club, or coming along to a first taster session, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also followthe club @stannesregatta on Twitter.