Royal Hobart Regatta revival of yachting

Hot Prospect will be one of the competitors in the Royal Hobart Regatta - Royal Hobart Regatta
Royal Hobart Regatta - This weekend will see a revival of yachting and sailing events on the River Derwent after several years ‘in the doldrums, with the regatta becoming just a huge fun fair ashore.

Renewed support from yachting, boating, sailing and rowing clubs in Hobart is the outcome of hard work by the Regatta organising committee and, in particular, the efforts of the Geilston Bay Boat Club.

'We have 25 yachts already entered for the races on Monday and fleets of dinghies will be racing on Sunday off the Regatta Grounds,' Vice Commodore of Geilston Bay Bay Boat Club John Nibbs said.

'Obviously, we have a long way to go bring yachting back to the great regattas when up to a hundred yachts took part, with the winners receiving the coveted silk programs.

'However, the entry list is double last year and the year before that there were virtually no yachts competing,' he added. 'A big help this year is that the Hobart Cup is on at Elwick on Sunday instead of Monday.'

Among the entries for Monday’s yacht races are Gybe Talkin’, skippered by Bellerive Yacht Club vice commodore John Mills, Stewart Geeves Footloose, winner of the Launceston to Hobart Race, and Hot Prospect, skippered by Geilston Bay Boat Club commodore Ian Marshall.

At least one of the famous old Derwent class yachts, John Purdon’s Salamis is expected to race.

Dinghy sailing on Sunday will start from 10am using the Yacht Tasmanian yardstick handicaps, with strong fleets of International Cadets, Lasers, Sabots and Mirrors expected.

The yacht races will start at 2pm on Monday, also off the Royal Hobart Regatta Grounds, with the former pilot vessel Devonport as the committee boat.

The Royal Hobart Regatta was first held in 1938 when the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin, provided free food and beer for all spectators. The tradition of free entry, although not food and beer, continues to this day.

The regatta is run over three days, with the Monday declared a public holiday 'Regatta Day' by the generous Sir John, and is now the oldest public holiday in Australia. The regatta ranks second only to the Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour in longevity and is Tasmania’s oldest sporting event.

While there will be yacht and dinghy racing on the Derwent, thousands of Tasmanians are expected to flock to the Regatta Ground at the Queens Domain for a traditional side-show alley, entertainment, wood chopping challenges.

Hobart is enjoying a huge week of aquatic events, starting with Bellerive Yacht Club’s ‘100-boat challenge’ on Wednesday, followed by a parade of sail including six tall ships, to open the four day Australian Wooden Boat Festival today. Up to 100,000 visitors are expected for the Wooden Boat Festival, with two Royal Australian Navy ships in ports, along with the Young Endeavour and the James Craig.

The 85th Bruny Island Race starts on Saturday morning, and next Thursday the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s Van Diemen’s Land Circumnavigation Cruise around the island State will start from Hobart.

Start of the yacht racing in last year’s Royal Hobart - Royal Hobart Regatta
Geoff Lucas