Yealm Fleet News

Racing in Wembury Bay
Racing in Wembury Bay (photo by Noah Saxton)

The Yealm Fleet

The Devon Yawl fleet on the River Yealm numbered some 31 boats at the start of 2021. This number, of course, is fluid as boats constantly come and go. Unusually, at the time of writing there were no Devon Dayboats amongst the fleet.

The River Yealm runs its course to the sea in Devon, a few miles East of Plymouth. The River and its off lying creeks provide excellent all-weather shelter for moorings and dinghy sailing. It gives access to Wembury Bay, where most of the competitive Yawl sailing is done. Either side of Newton Creek are the villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

There have almost certainly been Devon Yawls on the Yealm since the class started to be built. However, the real history of the Devon Yawl fleet on the Yealm started in the late 80s as the local Wednesday Evening racing series for dayboats came into being. Local character Rodney Carter acquired one of the first Devon Yawls to come to the Yealm (DY11) and gradually the fleet built to its current size, in 2021 the largest in the World!

The reasons for the success of the Class on the Yealm are a matter of conjecture. However, there are some clear contributory factors. First, the Class is ideally suited to local sea and weather conditions, as one might expect from a boat descended from local fishing forebears. A good sea boat, easily handled but capable of a good turn of speed and windward performance. Second, the Class appeals to ex-dinghy sailors who are looking for a Dayboat which can race and provide fun for the family. Third, the Class has gained its own momentum as the local one design Class providing competitive racing and good Wednesday Nights in the Yealm Yacht Club bar!

The Yealm Yacht Club has promoted the Class for many years, hosting National Championships and providing several National Champions, including the current National Champion, Tim Petitt.

If you are interested in Yawl sailing on the Yealm as a resident or visitor Andrew Matthews will be pleased to hear from you. Andrew can be contacted at


Andrew Matthews, March 2021