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Images from the Mahurangi Regatta for Classic Yachts - a pleasant step back to a better time

by Richard Gladwell/ 31 Jan 16:47 PST 1 February 2022
Rawhiti (1905 Logan) - heading up the windward leg A Class - Mahurangi Regatta - January 29, 2022 © Richard Gladwell -

Despite most major sports events being cancelled in New Zealand, the Mahurangi Classic Yacht Regatta took place on Saturday in picturesque Mahurangi Harbour - about two hours sail north of Auckland.

The area is well protected, and is one of perhaps half a dozen "gunk-holes" in the Hauraki Gulf. It remain largely unchanged for many years. The surrounding land is now largely in public ownership, and is set to be preserved in its present state for many decades to come, or returned to being re-forested as it was in pre-European times.

Once the scene for a major boatbuilding, trading, fishing, agriculture, gumdigging and many other local industries, Mahurangi forms a near-perfect physical and historical backdrop for the annual regatta, which is the pinnacle event for Auckland's magnificent classic yacht fleet. The Mahurangi Regatta is one of the premier classic yacht regattas in the world, still conducted in Auckland's tradition of sailing, and run for and by the participants, rather than as a public event or spectacle.

Other than Classic Yachts, several other divisions are also raced mostly for boats that fit the what used to be known as a Hauraki Gulf cruiser category. All of the boats competing are New Zealand designed and built. A "classic" in New Zealand is a boat that is more than 40 years old, and is only modified within the spirit of the original design. Others are obviously newer, aren't of the vintage to be considered "classic" but will obviously graduate to that level - mostly within a decade

In the A-class fleet boats range from 1895 (Ida) to 1964 Ta'Aroa - a well known NZ offshore and harbour racer.

For international readers, the Mahurangi Regatta is sailed on the Saturday of Auckland's three day anniversary weekend. Entries race or cruise to the harbour on Friday night, race on Saturday afternoon, and in the absence of Government restrictions a large informal gathering of sailors and supporters - who pack the foreshore at Scotts Landing with their dinghies. On Sunday, the fleet either enjoys a quiet day in the Harbour, cruises to nearby Kawau Island, for an overnight stay.

Or, there is a leisurely sail back to Auckland for the second classics race of the weekend in Auckland's Anniversary Regatta, which predates the America's Cup. Alternatively many competitors and the others who have cruised to the area for the long weekend, race back to Auckland in one of several Anniversary Day passage races. Or, they just quietly make their way home.

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