UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed today that the UK is undertaking efforts to support commercial shipping in the Black Sea transporting grain from Ukraine and deterring Russian attacks on cargo ships. This comes as Russia has continued its nightly attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea and Danube seaports despite continuing calls to resume the grain agreement.
On the eve of the G20 Summit starting in India, the prime minister’s office announced a series of new initiatives by the UK designed to promote global food security and respond to “Putin’s weaponization of Ukrainian grain.” The UK blames a spike in global food prices on Russia’s actions highlighting that since “Putin’s decision to rip up the initiative,” Russia has declared that all ships transiting to Ukrainian Black Sea ports are treated as military vessels irrespective of the cargo they are carrying.
In response, the UK said as part of its surveillance operations, “the Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft are conducting flights over the area to deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain.” The UK notes that Russia however did fire shots and board one cargo ship bound for one of Ukraine’s Danube ports, “Actions which may constitute a violation of International Humanitarian Law,” they said in their statement.
Since July, the UK assesses that Russia has also damaged or destroyed at least 26 civilian port facilities, warehouses, silos and grain elevators. These attacks they believe have directly reduced Ukraine’s export capacity by one-third and destroyed enough grain to feed more than one million people for an entire year.
Ukrainian officials highlight that the attacks are continuing with reports that 14 drones were destroyed over the Odesa region, including the Danube ports, on Thursday night. The Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council told the BBC that more than 270,000 tonnes of grain have been destroyed during the recent attacks. The attack on Wednesday night into Thursday morning lasted three hours with additional damage to grain silos and conveyors.
Before the war, the UK reports Ukraine was the world’s fifth largest wheat exporter, fourth largest corn exporter, and third largest rapeseed exporter. Grain accounted for 41 percent of Ukrainian export revenue, and almost two-thirds of the grain exported by the country goes to the developing world, said Sunak.
“We will use our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea, call out Russia if we see warning signs that they are preparing attacks on civilian shipping or infrastructure in the Black Sea, and attribute attacks to prevent false flag claims that seek to deflect blame from Russia,” Sunak said outlining the UK efforts.
In November, the UK supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, will convene an international food security summit. The focus will be on tackling the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition, the UK will contribute £3 million to the World Food Program.
These efforts came as Ukraine reported it is expanding grain exports from the ports in neighboring Romania and now Croatia. Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister admitted that Croatian ports are a “niche trade route,” but said it is popular and they look to increase exports along this route. Romanian previously said it was expanding access from the Danube to its seaport of Constanta. This is happening as Russia has not shown any willingness to restart the Black Sea grain agreements.
30th River Exe Regatta at Topsham Sailing Club
by Paul Kelley 22 Jul 12:42 PDT
8-9 July 2023
River Exe Regatta 2023 © Heather Davies
Topsham Sailing Club hosted the 30th River Exe Regatta over the weekend of July 8th and 9th and once again Tozers Solicitors, Exe Sails & Canvas and Wilkinson Grant Estate Agents, kindly and very generously supporting the regatta again as the main sponsors. We were also pleased to welcome Exmouth Marina this year as a sponsor. Without the support of all our sponsors we could not run these events and we are hugely grateful to them all for their kind help and continued support this year.
Money raised by the regatta helps the participating clubs to invest in sailing training and safety courses and fund training programmes for younger sailors and this continues to go from strength-to-strength. Promoting sailing and encouraging adults and juniors to take up sailing and indeed, other water-sports and including fishing is one of the, if not primary initiatives of the regatta committee.
Although Topsham.S.C hosted and formally chaired the regatta, it was Starcross Y.C. that oversaw the race organisation and actual racing over the weekend. This year saw a total of 62 dinghies taking part in the regatta over the two days of racing, which were separated into four fleets – Fast Handicap, Slow Handicap, Junior and Multihull. Because of the tidal restrictions, racing started early in the morning at 10.00. The OOD waisted no time in getting the racing started on time in a very light southerly breeze, with many of the competitors battling against the fast flooding tide and some struggling to make across the start line. However, the wind very kindly increased in strength enough for three rounds to be completed.
The racing proved very close amongst the leaders in all fleets but by the finish, the Fast Handicap Fleet was won by Tim Coombes and James Beer sailing their Hornet 2077, with Nigel Scudder and Keith Hills sailing their Hornet 2160 taking second and Oli Greenslade sailing his Phantom 1497 taking third place.Simon Greenslade won the Slow Handicap race in his Solo 6033, with Liam McGrath sailing his K1 73 into second. Third in race one was Paul Kelley in his Solo 6059.
The Junior Fleet was won by Theo Whiter sailing his Laser Radial rig very expertly, with Tom Solly sailing his RS Tera Sport in second place and Rowan Greeves and Emma Kazor in their RS Feva 8 finishing in third place. The Multihull Fleet race one being won by Ben Cutlet-Sharp and Kez Cutler-Sharp in their Hurricane 429, with Rupert Greeves and Caleb Greeves in Hurricane 380 in second and Jeremy Lees and Julia Green in Hurricane 276 taking third place.
Race two started in a much stronger breeze and a now ebbing tide. Unfortunately halfway through the race the heavens opened, with everyone getting pretty drenched – not forgetting the safety boat crews. The Fast Handicap was won by Richard (Figgy) Cain and Barny Dearsly sailing their Rs400 411. Second place was Dave Lee and Angela Bridges in Merlin 3799, with Oli Greenslade sailing his Phantom 1497. The Slow Fleet race was won by Paul Bartlett sailing his RS Areo 3438. In second place was Mike Bagge sailing his Laser Radial, with third place being taken by Chris Tilbrook and Stephen Scriven in their Lark 1949. The Junior Fleet race was won by Henry Reed and Ollie Wilson in their RS Feva, with Martin Falle in second place in his Topper from Fergus Stockman in his Topper taking third place. The multihull race was won by Rupert and Caleb Greeves, with Jeremy Lees and Julia Green in second place from Robert Ponting and Eloise Smith.
Saturday nights Regatta Party was hosted by Lymsptone Sailing Club and what a fantastic evening and party they laid on for all the regatta sponsors, competitors and their families. The party was accompanied with live music provided by a fantastic band called “Reckless”. There was excellent food and hydration a plenty and with good music too, everyone enjoyed a really enjoyable evening, superbly organised and laid on by Lympstone Sailing Club and their members.
Sunday morning dawned with a light to moderate southerly breeze. The Race Officer and his excellent team once again made sure the racing started on time at 1030, with all the fleets getting away cleanly off the start line. The course was a simple ‘P’ course configuration for the monohull racing, with the multihull fleet sailing upwind/downwind course. During the race, the wind did become rather patchy in strength, which made things very challenging and possibly frustrating at times.
After a long race, sailing in a challenging breeze the Fast Handicap fleet was won by Dave Lee and Angela Bridges sailing their Merlin, with Richard Cain and Barny Dearsly in their RS400 taking second place from Richard Garry and Sam Woolner (CO Exe Sails & Covers and regatta sponsor), finishing third in Hornet 2154. The Slow Fleets third race was once again won by Paul Bartlett in his Aero from Robert Jones sailing his Blaze 831 from Paul Jacobs in his Solo 6003. The Junior Fleet racing was once again keenly contested. Winner of race three was Martin Falle sailing his Topper 5.3, with Henry Reed and Ollie Wilson in their RS Feva XL finishing in second from Tom Solly in his RS Feva in third. The multihull racing was again keenly fort with Ben Cutler-Sharp and Kez taking line hounors in their Hurricane 429 from John Donovan and Nigel Hingston in Hurricane 454 who in turn beat Rupert and Cabel Greeves who finished in third place.
Race 4 was possibly the most challenging of the four race series. Initially the wind was a good 10-12 knots, again for the south and agin the strength was up and down, dependant on which part of the course area you were in. Again the racing was hard fought through out the four fleets. Unfortunately, dark black clouds loomed and on the last round the heavens opened and truly this time. In fact, the ferocity of the rain was like no one had ever experienced. It was literally like standing under a power shower. The waves disappeared, with the water being completely flattened as a result.
The Fast Fleet race was won by Richard Cain and Barny Dearsly in their RS400, with Richard Garry and Same Woolner finishing in second from Dave Lee and Angela Bridges in third. The Slow Fleet was once again won by Paul Bartlett in his RS Aero from Simon Greenslade in his Solo in second, with Mike Bagge sailing his Laser Radial finishing third. The Junior Fleet race was won Martin Falle sailing his Topper, with Henry Reed and Ollie Wilson sailing their RS Feva XL into second place from Tom Jolly sailing his RS Feva Sport taking third. The Multihull Fleet race was again won by Ben and Kez Cutlet-Sharp from Rupert and Caleb Greeves, with John Donovan and Nigel Hingston taking third place at the gun.
The prize-giving was held at Starcross Yacht Club, with prizes being presented by Tozers and Exe Sails & Covers, with the company of Starcross Yacht Club’s Commodore. Prizes were awarded to the first five boats in each fleet. After the prize-giving, the sponsors and competitors all enjoyed a most excellent regatta tea, with very many thanks to all those involved over the weekend behind the galley for looking after everyone so well. Thanks must go to the safety boat crews for their sterling efforts!
The overall results after four races and one discard are as follows below. The overall Exe Regatta Trophy was won by Paul Bartlett.
Fast Handicap Fleet
1st – RS400 411 Richard Cain and Barny Dearsly
2nd – Merlin Rocket 3739 Dave Lee and Angela Bridges
3rd – Hornet 2077 Tim Coombes and James Beer
4th – Hornet 2160 Nigel Scudder and Keith Hills
5th – Hornet 2154 Richard Garry and Sam Woolner
Slow Handicap Fleet
1st – RS Aero 3438 Paul Bartlett
2nd – Solo 6033 Simon Greenslade
3rd – Laser Radial 176836 Mike Bagge
4th – Lark 1949 Chris Tillbrook and Stephen Scriven
5th – K1 37 Liam McGrath
1st – Topper 34561 Martin Falle
2nd – RS Feva XL 8352 Henry Reed and Ollie Wilson
3rd – RS Tera 3900 Tom Solly
4th – Laser Radial 16771 Theo Whiter
5th – Topper 44868 Fergus Stockman
1st – Hurricane 429 Ben and Kez Cutler-Sharp
2nd – Hurricane 276 Jeremy Lees and Julia Green
3rd – Hurricane 380 Rupert and Caleb Greeves
4th – Hurricane 346 Robin Ponting and Eloise Smith
5th – Hurricane 454 John Donovan and Nigel Hingston
There are always very many people involved in organising the regatta, far to many to mention in person, less I forget someone but undoubtedly, with out any of those involved, in what ever capacity, the regatta would certainly not have been possible or indeed, have been such a resounding success once again. A massive thank you to everyone who helped and supported the regatta this year. We must also mention and thank Starcross Fishing and Cruising Club for their very kind help and support too.
Lastly, we must, once again, express are most sincere gratitude to all the Exe Regatta sponsors, who without their very kind generosity and keenness to be involved with and to support the regatta, we would have undoubtedly been unable to provide such a successful regatta, both on and off the water and as a result, the Regatta Committee and all those taking part are most profoundly indebted to them and we very much look forward to their continued support next year.
Oh, to be an estate agent on Easter Saturday in Salcombe! Elsewhere in the country, the property market might have slumped, but the craggy cliffs that conceal this dreamy Devonian cove are impervious to such blips.
So, as the spring selling season kicks off, Theo Spink’s diary is chock-full with viewings.
‘Whenever anyone asks me when’s a good time to buy in Salcombe, I tell them straight — it’s always a good time to buy in Salcombe,’ laughs the town’s answer to Kirstie Allsopp, confidently predicting that she’ll have wrapped up at least one more seven-figure deal before the weekend’s over.
No one could accuse Theo of spinning her prospective clients the sort of yarn that earns some members of her profession an unflattering reputation.
Over the past decade, house prices in the resort have risen exponentially and between 2021 and 2022 alone the average soared by an astonishing 33 per cent, to £1,244,025, winning Salcombe the questionable accolade of being named as Britain’s most expensive seaside town, in a Halifax survey published this week.
Though it has no railway station and can take five or six hours to reach from London, properties here now typically cost almost £300,000 more than in Sandbanks, the seaside Shangri-La in Dorset favoured by Premier League footballers, which had held the ‘most expensive’ title for many years.
Arriving in Salcombe on Wednesday, I admit to having wondered why it has been colonised by droves of weekend millionaires, as locals call the rich incomers (though one woman told me sniffily that she prefers Crew Klux Clan — because they often pootle about in boats and wear designer sailing outfits).
Far from being paved with gold, the A379 snaking down to the town is pot-holed, tortuous and so narrow that I was forever reversing to make way for some hulking Chelsea Tractor.
The weather didn’t help, either. On a lovely summer’s day, they say, Salcombe, with its turquoise estuary and secluded beaches, is a match for any Mediterranean resort.
When I got there, it looked like any out-of-season English resort: drizzly, overcast and miserable.
But there was, I admit, a more grudging reason why I didn’t immediately take to a town where house prices are almost four times the national average.
In Morecambe, Lancashire, where I was raised, you can still buy a smart, three-bedroom semi for £150,000 — and though it is enjoying a resurgence, like many English seaside towns, it must languish towards the bottom of the Halifax league table.
By Thursday, with the sun now shining and Easter crowds thronging the bijou shops and cafes, I’d put my northern prejudices aside.
And as Theo Spink showed me some of the des-reses on her books, I began to grasp why Salcombe has become the English Channel’s answer to Malibu.
Priced at £1.15 million (an absolute steal for Salcombe) the top-floor apartment at 3 Stonehanger Court has a wraparound balcony that serves as the perfect vantage point for our impromptu version of Location, Location, Location.
Gazing directly across the estuary towards East Portlemouth — the side where the reclusive pop star Kate Bush hides away, and the sometime summer redoubt of Blur singer Damon Albarn, doyenne TV royal reporter Jennie Bond, Michael Parkinson, plus a Dimbleby or two — my eye falls on a pretty, pink-washed house perched beside a private beach.
Theo recently sold it — to a self-made London businessman, so I’m told — for £5.5 million, but as prices have risen faster than the inrushing tide this past year, she says, it would already fetch at least £1.25 million more.
To our right, towards the open sea, is the Great Gates development, a popular location where a four-bedroom apartment recently went for £1.9 million.
To our left and below us, in a prime waterfront location, there is a huge hole filled with rubble.
As my guide explains, this was once the site of an unprepossessing house which sold for £3.5 million, only to be demolished by its new owners, who intend to replace it with a creation more to their taste: a practice adopted by many weekend millionaires, as one sees from the preponderance of scaffolding, bulldozers and builders’ signs in the town.
How much might it cost to erect this new dream home? ‘I wouldn’t deign to guess,’ says Theo, pointing out that a barge would be required to remove the rubble and bring in building material.
However many millions it takes, it will be a sound investment.
Briefly stopping to poke our noses into a postage-stamp, town-centre flat — at £350,000 one of the cheaper properties with her firm, Luscombe Maye — we wend round roads of alpine gradient to North Sands, where a historic former mill house is on at £2.25 million.
Then on to South Sands, where, in a scene redolent of the 1950s, children play cricket on the sandflats and hunt for crabs in the rock-pools while their parents huddle behind windbreaks, eating gritty sandwiches and reading their paperbacks. One or two hardly souls are even taking a dip, though — as one stickler for accuracy informs me — the water temperature is only 9.9c.
However, Theo has brought me here to see one of her most rewarding recent projects: selling nine of the 11 apartments in a modernist, four-storey block, ‘with a beach vibe’, overlooking the bay.
Extraordinarily, one of these new flats, with just 1,400sq ft of floor space, recently fetched £1.95 million — her personal record per square foot, she says, endearingly admitting that her firm is in fierce competition with Salcombe’s other local estate agents, Marchand Petit, and that this gives her ‘bragging rights’.
So, who are they, these people who can afford to breeze down to South Devon and leave with the deeds of homes priced way beyond the reach of most?
Why have they alighted on Salcombe, when South-West England boasts numerous coastal towns of equal quaintness? And, more pertinently, how has their influx affected the 2,000 ordinary folk who live and work here?
Enterprising locals have been renting their houses as holiday homes since the 19th century, when Salcombe’s handsome Victorian villas were built for prosperous merchants and sea captains. During the 1980s, however, as house prices rose quickly, they began selling them off.
Many early buyers were outdoorsy types from London attracted by the coastal paths, sandy beaches, exceptionally sunny micro-climate, and a sheltered harbour ideal for inexpert weekend boaters.
But what really set Salcombe apart from other resorts and made many people want to buy property here was the configuration of its houses.
Built into the rugged hills that twist above the small town centre, a large number offer panoramic views of Kingsbridge estuary and are within easy walking distance of it, attractions that add zeros to the asking price.
Since the topography and planning restrictions leave little room for expansion, demand for properties also exceeds supply: Theo has 300 interested buyers on her waiting list.
Salcombe’s image as an exclusive playground for the upwardly mobile is another factor that drives prices ever higher.
It feeds on itself, giving the spiral seemingly unstoppable momentum. You won’t find many rich foreign buyers here. Certainly not the Americans. Too distant from London. The Yanks don’t much like arduous walks or soggy picnics, either.
No, Salcombe is tailored to a decidedly English type of millionaire. Often, their fondness for the town is rooted in childhood family holidays and they come from all parts of the country, but principally the South-East and along the M5 corridor.
A typical profile would be a self-made entrepreneur from the Midlands who sells a company and ploughs the profits into a second home.
Locals have another jokey soubriquet for their ilk: the Birmingham Navy.
The common denominator binding these megabucks incomers is that hardly any of them buy their Salcombe pile with the intention of living in it.
For some, they are expensive indulgences, to be enjoyed for a week or two each year and opened to friends during July and August when, for a few frenetic weeks, the population swells to 25,000, rendering the lanes impassable, restaurant tables unbookable and the estuary so busy as to be almost unnavigable.
For others they are hard-headed investments. Indeed, many buyers are so affluent that they don’t trouble to rent out their boltholes, though they would fetch several thousand pounds a week at the height of summer.
Outside their new South Sands apartments, I met a couple from the Home Counties with two grown-up children.
They declined to say how much they paid, but I hear it was about £1.5 million. The husband, a retired engineer, told me with a smile that his wife, who worked in insurance, had been the high earner.
She had set her heart on owning a property in Salcombe. ‘I used to come on holidays in my teens and we brought our kids down in summer, from a tiny age, so it’s a bit of nostalgia,’ she said, returning from a beach walk with their dog.
‘It’s also a very safe place (locals attribute Salcombe’s low crime rate partly to the difficulty criminals have in accessing it).’
Gesturing towards the ferry, a timeless blue craft boarded and disembarked by way of a sea-tractor that carries the passengers into the sea, she added: ‘It’s just so quintessentially English. A happy little haven.’
For those with a million or two, at minimum, to spare, perhaps so. The problem is, of course, that in this remote corner of Devon, where many jobs are seasonal and wages low, the haves are greatly outnumbered by the have-nots.
In Salcombe, it has created a society made up of two economically divided — and increasingly polarised — sections.
There are those who can afford to come in, buy beautiful houses, then leave them lying empty.
Then there are those who have deep roots in the town and are desperate to remain, but haven’t a hope of earning the kind of money that even Salcombe’s cheapest properties command.
Indeed, it came as a surprise to learn that in a town where some think nothing of splashing out £100 to lunch on locally caught lobster washed down with Chablis, then wandering along Fore Street to buy a £1,500 watercolour to hang in their mothballed chalet, a dozen residents are so poor that they receive weekly handouts delivered by the food bank in nearby Kingsbridge.
Away from the glass-fronted beach palaces, however, there are pockets of hardship, according to Gerrie Messer, who manages the food bank.
As there are only 288 social housing properties, homelessness is not unknown, either, she says — an irony, given that so many flats and houses are unused.
‘The problem is worsened because food in Salcombe is more expensive than in outside towns and villages,’ Ms Messer told me. ‘Fish and chips might cost more than £15 there and £9 elsewhere simply because of the type of people it attracts. Shops and restaurants push up the prices.’
The resentment all this creates is palpable. Shopping for essentials in the Co-op, a woman living in a low-rent housing development — the only home she could afford, after retiring and moving back to her hometown — told me angrily she barely recognises the Salcombe she knew as a girl. Back then, the incomers at least made the effort to integrate and play their part in the community.
‘Now we get these aloof, nouveau-riche Hoorahs who spend a couple of weeks here, drinking gin and tonics and sailing about with their friends, then go off to the Caribbean, St Tropez or wherever. They do nothing whatsoever for Salcombe.
‘They just have parties and ruin the environment with their boats. We used to have a huge population of seahorses in the sea-grass along the estuary. You won’t find many of them now.
This town has become like Venice. All the real local people have been priced out. I’m not jealous. I just feel very, very sad.’
Her misgivings are shared by Tory county councillor Rufus Gilbert. While he and his colleagues were ‘amazed’ when the town was named Britain’s most expensive, he said, this was not an accolade to be celebrated.
‘Housing prices are too high for local people to live here, that’s obvious,’ he told me. ‘If the people who want to work in Salcombe can’t afford to live in the town they were born in and went to school in, that’s a sad reflection.
‘It can, perhaps, create a more sterile area for all. And as property prices go up for the privileged few who can come to live in and enjoy this wonderful area . . . it damages the economy, because you can’t employ people to provide the services they require. But I don’t think anyone knows the answer.’
They surely don’t. In an effort to redress the balance, South Hams District Council last year made it a legal requirement for all new-build homes to be sold as principal residences.
It also backed a Government Bill that will allow local authorities to double the council tax on second homes, although, as Devon’s Liberal Democrat leader Julian Brazil remarked: ‘That is peanuts to these people. It will cost them more than that to fill up their boats with petrol.’
And so, it seems, these rich interlopers, with their indifference towards the community, will gradually suck the soul out of Salcombe. In Bonningtons newsagent, one of the handful of traditional shops that remain in the high street, the proprietor made a grim prediction.
Given that first-time buyers will never again get on the property ladder in Salcombe, she said, genuinely local residents would become an extinct species within the next generation.
It is a prospect that must fill the weekend millionaires with dread. For who, then, will be left to wait on the poor darlings as they recline in their zillion-pound seaside piles?