A FUNDRAISING RNLI Sail Day saw a fleet of more than 20 yachts set off from Penarth Pier earlier today, June 6.

The annual RNLI Sail Day, which has been running in Cardiff for more than 20 years, saw 27 yachts descend on Penarth.

Last year’s event raised a staggering £20,000, which was used to fund Penarth lifeboat station’s brand new, state of the art training room – a much needed facility that has been used by many groups over the past year.

The Sail Day depends on local yacht owners donating their time and use of their vessels, and corporate sponsors inviting guests for a day’s sailing. Companies sponsoring the event this year come from a wide cross section of local businesses, including the construction, legal and financial industries. All in all, the event will involve some 250 people aboard 27 yachts.

The day began in Cardiff Bay where the yachts assembled before setting off through in convoy Cardiff Bay barrage, aiming for Penarth Pier – the start of a 15 mile course across the Bristol Channel that each boat followed.

Looking on, and ensuring the safety of the fleet, were three local lifeboats – two from Penarth and one from Barry Dock.

The winning yacht will be presented at the end of the race with the WT Davies cup – so named after the Cardiff yachtsman who founded the event.

“Every year, this event goes from strength to strength, with more and more yachts and more and more corporate sponsors offering their support,” said event organiser Colin Lyons.

“Each and every boat taking place in the Sail Day has been kindly donated by their owners, who will also be skippering them. The aim of this event is simple – to make as much as we can for the RNLI; one of the best charities in the world.”

The boats arrived at Penarth Pier at around 11am, before they all set off again at around 12pm.

Claire Kingston, Penarth RNLI Lifeboat’s volunteer press officer, came down to the pier to watch the yachts sail under the stewardship of Penarth’s inshore lifeboat and the Barry Dock Lifeboat.

She said that it was a “fantastic turnout” and that all the money raised would benefit the RNLI massively.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” she said.

“Considering these people are giving up their yacht and their time we are really grateful."

After the Sail Day there will be a buffet and prize raffle at Cardiff Bay.

This year the money raised will be going towards Flood Rescue Teams and crews from across Wales and the UK.