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Excelsior damaged at maritime festival

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:57 06 July 2010

The Lowestoft Excelsior suffered damage at the Yarmouth Maritime Festival. Picture: GARY HORNER

The Lowestoft Excelsior suffered damage at the Yarmouth Maritime Festival. Picture: GARY HORNER

THE Lowestoft-based Excelsior collided with the Grand Turk on Saturday during the 10th Yarmouth Maritime Festival.

Hundreds of years of seafaring heritage were brought to life over the weekend as part of the event, but unfortunately these two vessels collided while sailing down the river just off the quay.

THE Lowestoft-based Excelsior collided with the Grand Turk on Saturday during the 10th Yarmouth Maritime Festival.

Hundreds of years of seafaring heritage were brought to life over the weekend as part of the event, but unfortunately these two vessels collided while sailing down the river just off the quay.

Both ships were slightly damaged and one of the Excelsior's masts was torn. The matter is being investigated by the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch but both vessels continued to take part in the festival.

Tens of thousands of visitors headed to the town's South Quay for the chance to explore elegant sailing vessels and find out more about nautical life both past and present.

Three tall ships - the Artemis, the Grand Turk and the Jubilee Sailing Trust's Lord Nelson - formed the centrepiece of the festival and gave visitors a glimpse of what Yarmouth's quay would have looked like in the heyday of sail.

About a dozen vessels lined the quayside for the two day event, including the Broads Wherries Hathor and the White Moth, the Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI boat Samarbeta and the Excelsior.

Kirsty Burn, one of the festival organisers, said: "Everything looked absolutely super, especially with the sunshine and the light breeze to fly all the flags.

"I've got a bit of a wild imagination, but I don't think it takes much with these beautiful ships to really get a sense of how Yarmouth would once have looked, there would often have been ships like these in the harbour.

"It is also perfect that they can moor along the quayside because the heritage buildings here were all fishing merchants' houses, paid for with money made from fishing, and perhaps a little bit of smuggling on the side."

For those preferring to keep their feet on dry land, there was quayside entertainment with live shanty music, displays by the Newfoundland dogs, craft exhibitions and tasty treats at the feast of fish marquee.

Yarmouth's Lydia Eva, the world's last remaining steam-powered herring drifter, was open to visitors and the tall ship Artemis, which was originally a whaler and was converted into a sailing ship in 2001, offered trips out into the harbour.

Mrs Burn said that after 10 years, the festival has become an important part of the town's summer calendar and attracts people from across the region.

She said: "In past years, we think we've had about 30,000 to 35,000 visitors and we're hoping to have topped that this year. The town has been very busy and the quayside has been packed."

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