The 175th Australia Day Regatta, sailed into the nation’s history today when more than 160 harbour racing yachts, classic yachts, ocean racers and modern and historical skills celebrated this remarkable yachting anniversary on Sydney Harbour.
The regatta is the world’s oldest, continuously-conducted annual sailing regatta, a celebration of the arrival in 19788 of the First Fleet to found the penal colony that eventually became the great Commonwealth of Australia.
The Regatta was the centrepiece of Australia Day celebrations on Sydney Harbour, with other aquatic, dockside and aerial events adding colour to the National Day. A feature ashore was the many citizenship functions.
The 175th Australia Day Regatta is also a totally organised by a band of volunteer yachtsman headed by the eminent international yachtsman Sir James Hardy as president and naval architect and yachtsman John Jeremy as chairman of the organising committee. The regatta is sponsored by Commonwealth Private Bank.
The fleet today included 49 mostly wooden yachts in the Classic Yachts division, many gaff-rigged and several built more than a century ago. Many crews dressed in period sailing gear and later rendezvoused at the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club to celebrate the regatta’s history.
Despite a morning sea fog that blanketed the city and suburbs and the harbour, the misty conditions cleared somewhat and a light east to north-easterly breeze cooled conditions and provided close racing around fixed marks.
On waterways along the New South Wales coast, Australia Day regattas were linked to the historic event on Sydney Harbour. In Hobart, Australia’s second oldest seaport, yachts, dinghies and windsurfers competed in the Australia Day Green Island race and the Sandy Bay Regatta.
Another icon of Australian yachting, the 1970 and 1977 America’s Cup Challenger Gretel II took line honours in the 40 nautical mile Green Island Race, helmed by her 1977 skipper, 85-year-old Gordon Ingate.
On Sydney Harbour, a fleet of 49 yachts, mostly built of wood, many gaff-rigged and several more than a hundred years ago, contested the Classic Yacht division of the 175th Australia Day Regatta.
Winner of the 175th Australia Day Regatta Trophy and the Australia Day Council Trophy was Antares (R Keeson and D Wood). The Centenary of Federation Gold Medal went to Reverie, owned by Nigel Berlyn and John Barclay.
Outside of the Classic Yacht division, the biggest line-ups were in the two non-spinnaker divisions, reflecting the family fun aspect of the regatta.
Division 1 non-spinnaker saw Peter Davenport’s Arcturus II win from Molly (Frank Hetherton) and Willyama (R Barron/S Sanlorenzo/Trish Stanley). Division 2 non-spinnaker went the former Yachting NSW president Lyndsay Brown and Jim Nettlefold with their Folkboat Dreamtime. Second place went to Intrepid (Gary Ferress), third to Primary Wave (Ronald Montague) which also took line honours.
Division 1 saw a win by Barracuda (Greg Nolan) from Akela (Alan Mather) and Scarlett O’Hara (Robert Skol) while in Division 2, line and handicap honours went to Balmain Tiger (Neil Hamilton & Brian Wood) from Senta (Terry & Julie Clarke) and Brittania (Glen Ilic).
In Division 3, Gingerbread Man (Doug Russell) won to the double of line and handicap honours from The Holy Gale (Paul Harris) and Antares (Costa Rozakis & Anthony Tyson). Winner of the International Ynglings was Hamish Jarrett’s Miss Pibb from Karma (Gary Wogas) and Black Adder (Gary Pearce).
Only four Historical Skiffs turned out with Australia IV (Eric Priestley) taking line and handicap honours. Second place went to Australia (Chris Haskard), third to Tangalooma (Peter Le Grove).