Friday, 15 August 2014

ooooooooos and ahhhhhhhhhhhs

The national fireworks championships have been running for 19 years now but somehow we had never heard of it – we even missed it the year we were living in Plymouth. This year we had seen the build up and made sure that we were sat on the front deck in time for the first night to begin. There was just about enough room for the 5 of us alongside the dinghy which is taking up most of the deck whilst it is being built.

Sitting on a warmish night with a dark blue sky is a good start for fireworks. Between this and the French national day it is a while since we have had to huddle up in gloves and woolly hats to watch a display.


The Sound is an ideal shape, the breakwater used as the stage is opposite the Hoe poking out at a right angle into the water. Thousands of people line the waterfront on both sides of the river and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were quite a few watching from the Cornish side.

The booms roll around the sound, bouncing back off the cliffs. Comets scream, bursts of sherbet colour fizz in the sky, shapes and colours constantly shift building up to each finale which colours the horizon in silver and gold; from our viewpoint the castle is outlined against the brightness of the lights.


Many people sit on their decks and lights can be seen flitting across the water from the small boats watching from the river itself. A sailing boat arrived in the middle of the first night’s displays from a port further up the coast. They were quite surprised by all the activity and noise having not heard about the championships. I’m sure that large bangs as we were coming alongside would not do my nerves any good.

There was a delay at the start of the second night due to a technical problem. As everyone waited there was a cacophony of boat horns with answering hoots from both sides of the peninsular. Finally 3 loud bangs announced the start followed by the loud sound of nothing which was greeted by cheering from the crowds.

When the displays finally began after a further delay, the wind had dropped which left the smoke drifting lazily across the sky, at times it would cover the display completely leaving the ash glowing with colour and flashing with energy.

After two evenings it was over; 6 teams had thrown all their best, biggest and loudest explosions at a fantastic competition. The overall winners were a team from Crewe in Cheshire and we’re looking forward to watching more of the same next year.


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