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Yacht project get cash boost

PUBLISHED: 08:54 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:39 06 July 2010

A PROJECT to restore one of the country's oldest racing yachts has received a major boost after its trustees landed a £50,000 lottery grant.

The cash windfall means local school children and college students will be given the exciting opportunity to help put the "Leila" back in the water.

A PROJECT to restore one of the country's oldest racing yachts has received a major boost after its trustees landed a £50,000 lottery grant.

The cash windfall means local school children and college students will be given the exciting opportunity to help put the “Leila” back in the water.

She was gingerly sailed to Southwold last September after spending 12 years wasting away in Yarmouth harbour. Fresh water was rotting her frames, planks and stanchions and, according to her saviours, she was rescued just in time.

Work on the 40-foot gaff cutter is being carried out at a boatyard in Southwold harbour and it is hoped she will be in the water next month to be sailed to Lowestoft.

Twenty students from Yarmouth College will then help fit out the vessel and there will be opportunities for Kirkley High School pupils to gain practical technology experience.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £50,000 is a significant slice of the overall £130,000 cost of making Leila seaworthy again, with hopes high she will take part in next year's Tall Ships Race around the North Sea

Project co-ordinator and local sailor David Beavan said: “We are really pleased. We weren't expecting it so quickly because it's very tough at the moment to raise money.

“You never believe it until it happens, but it's nice to have £50,000 to spend. It means we can buy the proper stuff without having to get second hand.”

After being taken to Southwold, five tonnes of cast-iron ballast had to be removed so that her eight-foot draught could be hauled out in the shallow harbour.

Leila is the fifth oldest yacht in Britain and, if she is transformed to take part in the Tall Ships Race, she will boast a crew of seven local youngsters.

The graceful 15-tonne vessel was built by a London boatyard in 1892 for a wealthy barrister who was a member of the Royal Temple Yacht Club.

Leila had been in the hands of a Lowestoft family since 1961, which handed her over to the trust after fears for her future were raised.

Workers are replacing the yacht's rotting hull and other parts of the project will include the installation of new sails and safety equipment plus work to make her habitable below deck. Leila will also be fitted with the latest navigation and radio equipment.

To find out more about the trust, visit www.leila2c.org

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