Tor Bay provides a natural refuge for shipping during South westerly gales and there a few days when there is not some vessel anchored for shelter or awaiting orders.
During the eighteenth century, Tor Bay provided a safe anchorage for the Navy’s Western Fleet before the great breakwater sheltering Plymouth Sound was completed in 1840.
Brixham profited as a ‘victualling’ port, servicing provisions of food and drink to ships in the Bay.
Vessels of note making history in Tor Bay include the vanquished ‘Nuestra Senora del Rosario’ a warship from the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the HMS ‘Belleorophon’ in 1815 ,triumphant with the captured Napoleon aboard.
In more recent conflicts, large embarkation ramps were hastily built at Torquay and Brixham as part of operation ‘Overlord’ on 6th June 1944 and are still standing. The Royal Navy Air Service based sea planes during WW1 followed by an RAF air sea rescue unit on the quayside at Torquay during WW2.
On a more enjoyable and recreational aspect, annual boat races were taking place in the early 1800’s which developed into Regattas. Following Royal patronage from Queen Victoria in 1839, these became Torbay Royal Regattas and prompted the emergence of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club in 1885. Post WW1 regattas featured the Kings grandiose ‘Britannia’ and the elegant J-class yachts such as Shamrock, Astra and Endeavour. Following WW2 Torbay hosted the sailing programme as part of the London Olympiad in 1948, featuring classes such as the Firefly, Dragon, Star and Swallow.
Nowadays, the waters of Tor Bay provide the playground for a wide range of sporting activities including sailing, rowing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, angling, swimming and diving. Sailing centres throughout the South West have benefited from the 2012 London Olympics, with competitors sailing from Weymouth. This has inspired a new generation of sailors and ignited huge interest in getting ‘on the water’.