By Connor Steel
Photograph, Portsmouth Harbour Marine
GOSPORT residents are asked to save the date of September 4 (Saturday), which will mark the return of the local Marine Festival after last year’s unfortunate cancellation due to Covid-19 regulations.
The comeback of this popular event will be FREE to everybody, giving many families a rare chance to explore what the town has to offer in terms of marine leisure.
This event entitled Gosport Marine Festival was last held in May 2019 and saw over 500 visitors take to the water with thousands more in attendance at several sites across Gosport over a special two day event. Although the 2021 diary is limited to just the single day, organisers are hoping that it will be the biggest of its five year existence after last year’s problems.
Organised by Portsmouth Harbour Marine, the event is supported by organisations and businesses from across Gosport, including the borough council, British Marine and Gosport Sea Cadets.
It has also been confirmed that windsurfing and kayaking alongside other water sports will be available to try across the Borough’s waterfront with activities open to everybody both in water & dry land.
Down in Haslar Marina for ages 12 and over, rowing, dinghy sailing and kayaking activities will be held throughout the day with time slots needed to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to enjoy / learn new skills.
Open to everyone will be trips on the catamarans called Wetwheels (power) and the Spirit of Steve Badar (sail), which are both accessible for those with wheelchairs and mobility difficulties.
Finally a range of historic ships including Steam Pinnace and Medusa will be in attendance, with potential to look around if covid-19 regulations allow (yet to be confirmed).
In the surroundings of Cockle Pond (Walpole Park area) opposite the Bayside Café, there will be a smaller set-up for age 6-12 year olds to experience the same as the adults.
Activities will include windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing and children’s model yacht building to ensure nobody is left out of participating.
Those keeping their feet dry can visit the Millennium Timespace Sundial, which will see live entertainment by local performers throughout the day alongside food and drink sold by Hampshire businesses in the form of refreshment.
Prizegiving awards and exhibiters will be available at this landmark, with the potential to buy marine related gifts after the August payday.
The sundial is also the place to see the opening and closing ceremonies, with the day’s activities starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm.
An inspiration zone is also scheduled to be set in the grounds of Trinity Church, which will see careers advice and support offered for those interested in joining the marine industry for work. It may also provide Q&As and other informative talks / presentations, but this is yet to be confirmed at the time of writing. But overall the organisers are delighted to have such a wide range of events available in just seven hours.
Speaking to Portsmouth News, the Festival chairman Barry Easton said: “Now in its fifth iteration, the festival is very popular, with nearly 5,000 people attending in previous years. It is a great family event, especially for young people who can come along and enjoy themselves.
“If you don’t fancy going afloat, you can watch or enjoy the exhibitions and entertainment ashore. The festival gives everyone a chance to have fun on the water or try a new sport in a fun, friendly and safe environment. This event would not be possible without the support of our many volunteers who donate their time and the generosity of local charities, businesses and our sponsors.”
Residents and potential visitors are permitted to book their tickets for the events when the system is made available in late July, but can view further information in the meantime. Anybody willing to volunteer is asked to contact the Festival chairman using the below email address. firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
(Image from Gosport Marine Festival 2019)