Flashboats at Calstock

It’s the mid-1920s, you’ve left school at 14 to be an apprentice boat-builder in Calstock. 

Your mentors are craftsmen of integrity, who work wonders with wood.

But your boss, James Goss, is a maverick soul.

He tires of churning out everyday working vessels and starts to sculpt a finer, lighter, faster 18ft boat for the raw pleasure of winning races.   

Jealousy rears its ugly head and the rest of the boatbuilding fraternity dubs them ‘flashboats’ but you don’t give a damn as you’re learning your trade and redefining rowing at the same time.

A good few decades on, it’s the 60s and you’re teaching the young guns how to shape the sleekest footer yet, for the upcoming Calstock regatta.

On the day itself, you see Penryn’s very own maverick, Willy Hurley, on the start line in a 15ft oyster-dredging ‘skiff’.
You rub your eyes, look again and see a 3ft plank nailed to the stern, just to satisfy the 18ft rule.

‘She’s legal!’ he yells and the riverside crowd burst into hysterics.

Zoom into the 70’s and 80’s and Penryn turn from laughing stock rookies into world-beaters as they finesse their designs and monopolise the sport.

Victor Angove, Jan Hilder and Dickie George become the boatbuilding gods of Penryn but Calstock is still the star fixture on the flashboat circuit.  

You swap stories and reminisce over the grand old girl of Calstock, Anne Glanville, who also broke the mould of the sport all those years ago.