It seems like every year is described as a “summer of sport” by the media, but with a Summer Olympics and the European Championships, as well as all of the usual annual events like Silverstone and Wimbledon, there’s plenty going on in 2016.
The Rio Olympics will undoubtedly have many people thinking back to London 2012, and some of the great triumphs of those Games were the sailing events, not least because they were more open to spectators than many of the stadium-based sports.
If you want to relive some of that excitement by taking in some sailing this summer, there’s no need to travel to Brazil – there’s a whole host of events on your doorstep in North Wales.
Pwllheli’s the place to be for sailing North Wales
Plas Heli is the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre, located on the southern coast of the Llyn Peninsula which offers spectacular views across the water even without the boats bobbing up and down on the gentle swells.
It makes Pwllheli an important berthing point for visitors from a wide variety of different locations around the British Isles.
The visitor pontoon sees vessels arriving from the east coast of Ireland and Dublin Bay, the north and south-west of England, and even boats stopping off overnight en route from Scotland to the Mediterranean.
If sailing’s not your thing, there’s plenty to see and do on dry land, including the castles at Criccieth – the location of the last rebellion against the English by the Welsh – and at Caernarfon, where the investiture of HRH Prince Charles was held in 1969.
There’s also the opportunity to visit Portmeirion, still iconic half a century after it rose to fame as the setting of the television series The Prisoner; Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’s architectural curiosity was still under construction during filming in 1967, and some buildings date from as recently as 1975, the end of a half-century phase of building.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks in the area, and an architectural gem in its own right, even if you’ve never seen the TV series that was filmed there.
All at sea
Back on the water, and Plas Heli is not the only place where seafarers can land – if you’re unable to find a space at the visitor pontoon there, then try neighbouring Hafan Marina.
This too is located in Pwllheli, and offers temporary berths with access to fresh water and electricity.
Plas Heli itself is accessible at all tide levels, with chandelries available on-site, and is likely to be especially busy throughout July and August to coincide with the busy summer of sailing events due to take place there.
The 2016 summer calendar for sailing North Wales is packed with sailing events at Plas Heli, most of which are crammed into an incredibly hectic August schedule.
The 6 – 12 August sees the Miracle National Championships and Signet National Championships take place, both featuring celebrated racing boat designs.
The Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championships are on 12 – 14 August, overlapping with the 420 UK National Championships taking place between 13 – 19 August.
Head to Plas Heli on August 20th-26th for the GP 14 National Championships and the OK Class National Championships, both taking place on those dates.
On 26 – 29 August it’s the RS Tera Nationals, while 27 – 31 August is the schedule for the Sprint 15 National Championships.
Finally, moving into September, there’s the Intl Canoe Class National Championships taking place between 1 -4 and the 29er Grand Prix on the 10 -11 September, rounding off a genuinely packed summer of sailing spectator opportunities on the open water.
Image: courtesy of Paul Fox, 2005.