190 sailors compete for the 60th Birkett Trophy on Ullswater

190 sailors have been competing for the 60th Birkett Trophy on Ullswater
190 sailors have been competing for the 60th Birkett Trophy on Ullswater Credit: ITV Border

Over a hundred sailing boats have been out on Ullswater this weekend hoping to win one of the most coveted trophies in the UK, the Birkett Trophy. 

This year the race is celebrating 60 years since Ullswater was stopped from becoming a reservoir, remaining free to be enjoyed by water sports lovers. One of the 190 boats that raced this year, was captained by David Clarke, who won the race in 1984.

He told ITV Border: "We all want to win the Birkett. Some people have spent a lifetime sailing and they're so determined to win it and I'm one of the fortunate ones that have.

"Your whole race can be over almost before it's started because there are so many boats on that line.

"There's just so many things to winning this event but only one is going to" and he adds with a cheeky grin "and it might be me."

The race can be over even before it starts if sailors don't have a good position on the line. Credit: ITV Border

The race is in memory of Lord Birkett, a lawyer from Ulverston, who on 8th February 1962 made the most famous speech of his career, in the House of Lords, in defence of Ullswater, stopping it from becoming a reservoir so it could be enjoyed by all the water sports lovers who've got out on this lake for the last 60 years.However, just two days after that famous speech Lord Birkett died suddenly.

Sue Giles, from Ullswater Yacht Club, which organises the race, says the club wanted to hold the race in memory of him.

Sue said: "We call him 'The Saviour of Ullswater' because it meant that the lake was free for everyone to use at any time.

"And that meant a great deal to the sailors and anyone else around the lake that wanted to make use of the beautiful lake that we have here.

"We think a great deal of what he did even now."

Avoiding hitting another boat is one of the hardest elements of the race. Credit: ITV Border

It's the biggest sailing event in the North, one of the top 10 in the country.

The sailors go as fast as they can from the Ullswater Yacht Club base, down to Glenridding, back up to Pooley Bridge, round two buoys and back to the base.

"We do that on Saturday and for want of anything better to do on Sunday we do it all again," club President John Robinson said.

"It's very difficult to do it, particularly when you get to the southern end of the lake because there are several valleys, which bring different winds into the lake.

"So you can be sailing along in one direction and then the wind changes and you've got to have another think about where you go next."

Sometimes it's just not your race. Credit: ITV Border

You've got to have a good wind and avoid missing all the other boats. But for some, it's just not their race and they end up capsizing, losing time.But thanks to Lord Birkett 60 years ago, it's possible.