Residents are being invited to turn out in their hundreds to celebrate the occasion the return of windsports to its spiritual home this weekend.
Up to 25 mini-yachts and a number of kite buggies will attend from all over the country for a regatta on St Annes beach organised by British Landsailing and members of the British Land Speedsail Association.
The sport was banned 13 years ago after mother-of-two Carole Cruz died following a collision with one of the vehicles.
But after years of campaigning for a return as long as safety measures were paramount, a successful trial was held last autumn and Saturday and Sunday’s event follows.
The regatta is being organised by British Landsailing and members of the British Land Speedsail Association (BLSA) with permission from Fylde Council.
A section of beach in front of North Beach car park will be used for a series of 10-minute mini-yacht races and kite-buggy demonstrations from 11am each day, with practice from 10am. A prize-giving ceremony will be held at approximately 3pm on Sunday in the Trax Centre by the North Beach car park.
We hope it will be the first of many regattas to raise the profile of Fylde and give a boost to the area’s visitor economy.Fylde Council Leader, Sue Fazackerley
Coun Sue Fazackerley, Fylde Council leader and cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “We hope it will be the first of many regattas to raise the profile of Fylde and give a boost to the area’s visitor economy.
“It is a tremendously exciting sport to watch and I hope that many turn out for an enjoyable weekend.
“Mini-yachts are the perfect introduction to the sport. They are fun, easy to transport and quick to assemble. It will be a fantastic family day out.”
“I hope that people will eventually form a club which will be the gateway to the sport’s return on a regular basis.”
The event has been subject to careful planning and a qualified race marshal, supported by stewards, will control the site which will be surrounded by perimeter cones to ensure public safety.
As with all windsports it is subject to the unpredictability of the weather.
Gary Sams, Fylde Council’s principal estates surveyor, said: “Due to the weather affecting the smoothness or otherwise of the beach, we won’t be able to say precisely where the windsports will take place but the windsports area will be at least 300, possibly 500, metres from the dunes in front of North Beach car park.
“The area will be marked by cones and patrolled by marshals with flags and radios. Spectators will be allowed to watch from anywhere outside the coned area or from the dunes.”
Ian Dibdin, a locally-based British champion who has led calls for a return of the sport to the beach, said: “All credit to Fylde Couincil for being so positive after the trial in October, ” he said.
“I am delighted at how quickly this regatta has come around and it offers so much potential for the future.
“Of course, safety is always the primary consideration but we are hopeful this will lead to a successful comeback for our sport on a regular basis.
“It is one step at a time.”
Ian has already taken part in provisional talks regarding windsports possibly being added to the programme for the increasingly-popular St Annes Kite Festival this summer.
John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said: “Windsports coming back on a regular basis is a very exciting prospect.
“The great thing about it is that there are very few places which can stage such events so with out glorious beach.”
Anyone interested in the event or joining a new club should contact firstname.lastname@example.org; Graham Dalzell of British Landsailing and BLSA on 07715 077437 or at email@example.com