223rd Whitstable Regatta - organised by Whitstable & Herne Bay Lions

The first Whitstable Regatta was held on 7 August 1792 and has been held almost every year since then. In 1912 the Whitstable Yacht Club took over the running of the Town Regatta as it was known and even in those early days there was an "aeroplane display". Extra trains were laid on from Canterbury with cheap fares.

The Regatta was a real sailing spectacle with schooners, brigantines, barques, oyster dredgers and yachts of every size taking part. Events were controlled from a Committee Boat where refreshments were provided, although this sometimes caused problems. In 1920 the Committee resolved that "under no circumstances would ladies be admitted to the Committee Boat" and a separate boat was provided! Scouts helped by sending semaphore signals between the shore and the Committee Boat.

In 1913 a highlight was the blowing up of a wreck by the Whitstable Salvage Company. In 1914 a rival West End regatta was proposed for West Beach but neither event took place because of the outbreak of war. The Regatta was revived in 1919 and was described as "by far and away the best and showiest of all the regattas on the Kent coast".

The Yacht Club continued to organise the Regatta for a number of years but in 1952 it was run by the Whitstable Sea Cadet Corps, when record crowds saw more than 100 yachts taking part.

Greasy pole walking from a diving raft was always part of Regatta and in pre-war days another popular event was the "bombing" by a plane with bags of flour. There were also the 'millers and sweeps', where the occupants of two small boats fought each other with soot and flour!

Music has always been part of the entertainment and bands used to perform from the bandstand which has long since disappeared.

In more recent years the Regatta was run by Whitstable Town Council until this was merged with Canterbury, at which point the Chamber of Commerce took it on. In the late 1970s it was handed over to the Lions, who have run it ever since. At that time it was a one day event held on a Sunday. The Lions first introduced the idea of a firework display on the Saturday night and then extended the event to two days. For the last few years the display has been set on a boat moored off the Regatta site, providing a spectacular display visible for miles around.

For information about the Regatta or to discuss promotional opportunities, please contact the Regatta Chairman on

01227 274313 or email Whitstable Lions Regatta


The next Lions Regatta is on Saturday 6th & 7th August 2016 on Tankerton Slopes