One of Sydney’s oldest sporting events, the Balmain Regatta, was first held in 1849 and continued until 1934 when it was unfortunately discontinued. In 1994, it was brought back by the Wooden Boat Association and hosted at the Balmain Sailing Club as a part of its Spring Series. The event has a lengthy history on our waterways.
by Neil Hamilton
In 1997, the Balmain Regatta was granted the recognition that such an historic event deserves and was run as a separate event, jointly organised by the Balmain Sailing Club and the Wooden Boat Association. Today it is run by a special Sub Committee within the Balmain Sailing Club, in association with other sailing clubs and community organisations, and is a real celebration of Balmain and sailing on the Western Harbour in recognition of Balmain’s maritime heritage.
The 2011 Balmain Regatta was conducted on Sunday October 30 under threatening skies which promised rain but instead produced a sunny afternoon and an excellent sea breeze to blow home the fleet of over 80 boats which had struggled earlier with a strong tide and patchy wind.
As with previous Balmain Regattas, the event incorporated a full day of sailing and boating fun, with a uniquely wide ranging feet which included classic 10 ft and 18ft skiff races, along with modern dinghies, as well as classic and modern yachts. The 2008 Balmain Regatta introduced its first modern One Design Class with the addition of the Flying Tiger FT10’s to the program. In 2010 J24’s were added and the 2011 Balmain Regatta included One Design racing for the very popular Cavalier 28’s and the historic Hood 23’s.
In addition the 2011 Regatta introduced a Super 30 Class in recognition of the growing fleet of 30ft. Sports Boats that are developing in clubs across Sydney Harbour. A unique feature of the Balmain Regatta once again was the inclusion of crews representing Balmain’s local pubs and Community Services Groups who race in the Pub Challenge and the Community Services Cup. The Pub Challenge crews take this race very seriously putting the reputation of their local on the line. The 2011 Pub Challenge was won by 'The London Hotel' with proprietor David Stevens, a keen Balmain Sailing Club member at the Helm of his own boat ' Warp 9'.
The overall winner of the 2011 Balmain Regatta for the best performing boat and crew in the Regatta went to Doug Allan in his Peterson 30 'Silhouette' who won the Open Yachts Spinnaker Division by eight minutes. Doug is a well-known local sailor from the Balmain peninsula and regularly sails at both Balmain and Drummoyne sailing clubs. Doug was presented the Pyrmont Cup by Brian Wood who had skippered his FT10, 'Balmain Tiger', to overall victory in the 2010 Balmain Regatta. The Pyrmont Cup was donated to Balmain Sailing Club by a member who rediscovered it while renovating her Balmain home. It was originally contested by work boats which plied the Pyrmont and Balmain shores in great numbers in the mid 1800’s. Inscriptions on the Pyrmont Cup date back to 1880.
The number of 'Plastic Boats' participating at the Balmain Regatta is increasing each year as new one design classes have been introduced as well as the addition of longer courses to provide Spinnaker racing down into the main harbour with some classes rounding up to seven harbour islands. Unfortunately this growth has been at the expense of the wooden classic yachts whose numbers have fallen off over the last couple of years.
The Balmain Regatta race committee is keen to address this decline with more targeted promotion to wooden boat owners across the harbour. The Regatta is meant first and foremost to be a celebration of sail in the upper harbour and this is best epitomised by the beautifully adorned classic wooden yachts with their Gaff and more modern Sloop rigs.
For information regarding the 2012 Balmain Regatta contact the Balmain Regatta Race Committee Chairman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Balmain Regatta 2011 - Barb Hamilton
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1:27 AM Tue 1 Nov 2011 GMT
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