The Vuurschepenrace, steeped in history and tradition, has been a pivotal race in the world of offshore sailing since 1946. Originating as the Hook of Holland Harwich Race, it later transformed into the transfer to Harwich race when the starting location shifted to Breskens. In 1984, a new chapter began when the race found its start in Scheveningen.
The race’s name evolved alongside its starting point. The transition to Harwich brought about the name change to the Vuurschepen – Harwich Race. This transformation was solidified after merging with the Dutch Light Vessel Race, centered around the lightships in the North Sea.
The moniker “Vuurschepenrace” itself pays homage to the early English light vessels, essentially floating lighthouses, which have since been replaced by buoys.
Today, the Vuurschepen – Harwich race is organized by Jachtclub Scheveningen but bears the historical patronage of the Royal Dutch Sailing & Rowing Association “De Maas.”
This race holds the distinction of being the oldest offshore race originating from the Netherlands, with a warm welcome awaiting participants at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in Woolverstone. A cherished tradition is the lunch provided by the North Sea Club in the quintessential English pub, the Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill, offering a splendid view over the river Orwell. A day later, the British RORC North Sea Race commences, returning to Scheveningen.
The RORC North Sea Race has always been attractive to Dutch sailors, as it provided a platform to compete against their British counterparts. In the early years, victory often favored the English, as Dutch yachts struggled to perform at their best.
In a gesture of classic British sportsmanship, Admiral Owen Aisher of RORC introduced a new prize, The Yeoman Trophy, to encourage Dutch sailors to excel in offshore sailing. To this day, the North Sea Regatta is fiercely contested, with sailors striving to claim The Yeoman Trophy.
For further friendly competition, the best-performing yacht from Scheveningen Yacht Club in the North Sea Race is awarded The City of The Hague Trophy. Lastly, the C70 Trophy Netherlands vs. Great Britain recognizes the country with the top-performing three yachts, adding to the camaraderie and excitement of this storied race.