For those who are lucky enough to be there, Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, billed as the 'largest single day regatta in the world' will bring the city's Waitemata Harbour alive on 30th January. For the spectator there will be an immense fleet of sailing craft from the graceful Jessie Logan, built in 1878, to the grunty Ports of Auckland tugboats and nippy P class yachts.
This is the 171st regatta and the oldest sporting event in New Zealand. Held on Anniversary Day, the celebration to mark the region’s birthday and establishment of the new Auckland super city will be held on land, air with flying displays from the Red Checkers and Warbirds and sea with a huge flotilla of craft of all shapes, sizes and eras. There will be elegant classic yachts and launches, rowdy tugboats racing up the harbour, some of the fastest boats in the southern hemisphere blasting down the harbour, radio controlled masterpieces and dragonboats and waka ama canoes.
'We have a spectacular day ahead of us with sailors of every age from more than 50 clubs participating,' says Eric Mahoney, the chairman of the regatta organising committee and a very keen classic sailor.
'Auckland is particularly lucky in that we have such a large classic yacht and launch fleet ... a result of a decade long revival in restoring these beautiful boats to their original glory using traditional arts and crafts. This has seen the formation of trusts to preserve our history thanks to the support and energy of people of great vision and passion.'
Names on some of the beautiful silver trophies will recall New Zealand's extensive maritime heritage and history from the 19th century through to contemporary times. Among the classics that will be racing will be Thelma, the largest of the famous Logans, Ranger and Prize, Waitangi and Wairiki, Rainbow and Little Jim.
Mr Mahoney was also expecting a number of classic yachts from Australia to participate in a Challenge Series and a continuation of the racing rivalry between Wraith of Odin from Australia and Thelma. The classic yacht fleet with be lit up, Mediterranean style, at dusk, on Sunday, 30 January at their base in Viaduct Harbour.
A popular highlight will be the tugboat and workboat race featuring both vintage boats right through to the powerhouse tugboats used today. The vessels will parade back to the Viaduct after the skippers have thrashed it out on the churning race course.
The start line, off Princes Wharf, downtown, will ensure spectators have a great view and there are excellent vantage points around the harbour including Bastion Point, Devonport Wharf, North Head, Orakei and East Coast Bays.
The flagship for the day will be the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Wellington with the Governor General and VIP guests aboard. There will be the Red Checkers and Warbirds from 11.30am and continuous entertainment on land with buskers, music, maritime displays, tours and the Seafood Festival.
Event Website - click here