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Royal Hobart Regatta - Perfect sailing conditions

by Peter Campbell on 13 Feb 2012
Start of the yacht race of the 174th Royal Hobart Regatta 2012 Rob Cruse
The Royal Hobart Regatta was held today on the River Derwent. Second only to Sydney’s Australia Day Regatta in longevity the Regatta celebrated its 174th anniversary on a perfect late summer’s day in the capital of the island State of Tasmania.

Regatta Day has been a public holiday since 1838 when the then Governor, Sir John Franklin, declared it a day of recreation and fun afloat and ashore for the citizens of the then small Hobart Town.

Sir John and Lady Franklin led a sail past to the regatta grounds, still used today, and with a benevolent gesture, turned on free beer and food for the populace.

Tasmania’s current Governor Mr Peter Underwood AC arrived by water, too, on the historic launch Egeria, but his Government House budget no longer runs to providing drinks and food for the citizens of this city of now some 250,000 people.

However, His Excellency certainly gets into the spirit of the Regatta, mixing with the spectators on the lawns and presenting medals to winners of the swim race across the Derwent, as well as having lunch with Regatta officials.

Apart the summer of the horrific bushfire of 1967, the Royal Hobart Regatta has been held continuously since 1838, not far behind the Australia Day Regatta which on 26 January this year celebrated 176 years of unbroken continuity.

Unlike today’s Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour, the Royal Hobart Regatta retains its original concept of a 'people’s day' with sideshows, wood-chopping contests, Miss Regatta parades and musical entertainment ashore as well as swimming, rowing, powerboat, dinghy and keelboat racing on the river.

Among the swimmers, incidentally, were yachties Ian and Kathy Johnson, who many years ago sailed a tiny trimaran called Twiggy around the world. These days they are closely involved in Hobart’s Wooden Boat Festival and also in marathon swimming. For the record, Kathy finished third in her division of the near 70 swimmers, Ian said he was 'glad to see so others behind him.'

In recent years, the yachting support for the Royal Hobart Regatta had dwindled but with the energetic drive of the Geilston Bay Boat Club, one of Hobart’s smaller clubs, yachties have renewed their support for the historic regatta.

One is yachting personality Wayne Banks-Smith, a great supporter of sailing in southern Tasmania. This weekend he competed in two historic events, the 86th Bruny Island ocean race and the 174th Royal Hobart Regatta on the River Derwent.

On Saturday, sailing his Farr 40 War Games, Banks-Smith and his crew finished fourth over the line in the Bruny Island Race. It took them more than 17 hours of frustrating sailing to complete the 89 nautical mile circumnavigation of the island south of Hobart.

Today, War Games was out again for the Royal Hobart Regatta, this time taking line honours from the 23-boat fleet in perfect sailing conditions, a constant 14-16 knot south-easterly seabreeze, gusting to 19 knots.

Winner of the historic Lipton Trophy, decided on PHS handicaps, was the smallest boat in the fleet, Greg Rowling’s J24, Another Toy, from Ian Johnston’s Portabello and John Hunn’s Atilla.

The AMS division saw a win for Ian Stewart’s Mumm 36 TasPaints from Colin Denny’s new Beneteau First 40, The Protagonist, and Total Locks and Alarms, skippered by John Mills. This was the first race for The Protagonist under an AMS rating, with an AMS division introduced for the first time in this year’s Royal Hobart Regatta.

In the non-spinnaker division Keith Bolton’s Mottle 33, Tara, took first place on corrected time from another Mottle 33, Bahloo (Nigel Grey) and the Young 88 Footloose (Ian Stewart).

Another sailor lining up again after competing in the Bruny Island Race was 12-year-old Angus Calvert, who sailed his first long ocean race aboard Auch, skippered by Richard Scarr.

Yesterday, Angus was back sailing his Sabot, notching up three seconds in his class in the Yardstick races for centreboard class dinghies. 'He had a ball in the Bruny Island Race but after nearly 17 ½ hours at sea on Auch he is still rather weary,' added his skipper. 'But he still wanted to get back on the water in his Sabot.'

Results of the Yardstick regatta will be announced later in the week.

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