175th Royal Hobart Regatta underway on the River Derwent

Keelboats and a variety of dinghies competing in the 175th Australia Day Regatta
Peter Campbell
Innovative changes have seen a much stronger participation in sailing at the 175th Royal Hobart Regatta, with close to eighty keelboats and dinghy classes competing today on the River Derwent.

While yacht racing was once a major part of this historic event, along with races between Tasmanian trading ketches, support for sailing had dwindled in recent years.

The Regatta was founded in colonial days by the then Lieutenant Governor of what was then Van Diemens Land, Admiral Sir John Franklin, who gave the populace of Hobart Town their first public holiday to watch and participate in aquatic and other events on land.

He also turned on free beer and cheese, something the present Governor, Peter Underwood, said this week was 'beyond my budget'.

At today’s 175th anniversary Regatta, the much larger populace of the city of Hobart again turned out to enjoy their public holiday, with Regatta organisers turning on the traditional aquatic events of sailing, rowing, a cross-river marathon swim, and even a revival of the ‘greasy pole’ in which competitors attempt to push a barrel along a round wooden pole suspended over the river.

Few made it to the end of the pole to retrieve a flag.

Tasmania's Governor Peter Underwood AC got a close-up of the 'greasy pole' contest when he arrived on the motor yacht Egeria for the 175th Royal Hobart Regatta
Peter Campbell

Ashore, there was the always popular sideshow alley, a tug-of-war, dancing, singing and beauty contests, and some free beer (or wine) for honoured guests.

As has been the tradition for many years, the RAN provided a warship as the Flagship, with HMAS Sydney anchored mid-river and ‘dressed’ for the occasion.

egatta Flagship HMAS Sydney on station on the River Derwent - 175th Hobart Regatta
Peter Campbell

For yachties, it was a perfect day, attracting 35 keelboats for a Combined Clubs Harbour Race Series event as part of Regatta Day, while more than 30 dinghies contested Yachting Tasmania’s Yardstick Regatta.

A new yachting event, which is certain to expand with better interclub promotion, was a Royal Hobart Regatta twilight race, starting at 6pm and finishing in time for boats to anchor off the Regatta Grounds to watch the spectacular evening fireworks.

About 25 keelboats competed, but the number could have been doubled had the notice of race between promoted earlier at clubs other than Geilston Bay Boating Club, which ran the twilight race.

In the Combined Clubs Harbour Series race, sailed in a 10-12 knot south-westerly breeze, veteran yachtsman Don Calvert and his crew of Intrigue fronted up after Saturday’s long Bruny Island Race to win both the AMS and IRC rating divisions of Group 1.

Masquerade, Tony Harman’s Masquerade, provisionally second overall in the Bruny Island Race to The Fork in the Road, won the PHS Category in Group 1, beating Host Plus Executive (Jeff Cordell) and Intrigue on corrected time.

In AMS scoring, Intrigue won from Host Plus Executive and Mem (Paul Boutchard) while in IRC, Intrigue won from Host Plus Executive.

Group 2 saw a close corrected time win for Silicon Ship (Clark Wyatt) from Hot August Night (Nat Morgan) with a winning margin of 15 seconds. Half Hearted (Chad Grafton) placed third.

SB20s took the first placings in Group 4, with Brainwave (Scott Brain) winning from Ciao Baby III (Steve Chau) and Wedgewood (David Graney).

In Group 6, Alibi II (Rod Williams) had an outright win from Serenity (Graham Hall) and Innovator (Ian Smith.)

The long harbour Regatta race was a change for the Farr 40s, which normally racing two or three windward/leeward races, but it still provided close racing.

Wired (Stephen Boyes) took the honours from War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith) and Voodoo Chile (Lloyd Clark) which is heading to Sydney to contest the New South Wales and Australian championships for the Farr 40 class, with Andrew Hunn on the helm.

Three races were sailed in the Yachting Tasmanian Yardstick Regatta, contested by a mixed fleet of dinghies, including Sabres, OKs, 420s, Laser Radials, several P-class, International Cadets, Optimists and Sabots. Sailors ranged from juniors in Optimists to senior sailors in OKs and Lasers.

Winning individual boat was a Laser Radial, Cold Reason, sailed by Rohan Langford, with two wins and a fourth under YT Yardstick handicaps.

Second place went to champion Sabot sailor Sam King in Red Herring, with a 3-2-1 score, third to the Sabre, Alchemy, sailed by Andrew Robertson, with a 2-6-2 scorecard. Then came a P-class dinghy, Esperence (Joe Brown), fourth an OK dinghy, Epoxy Warrior, sailed by Justin Barr.

The Yardstick Regatta also included a teams event, with Sandy Bay Sailing Club’s team comprising the Optimist, Iki Moku (Flynn Sprott), the 420, Sorted (SamTiedemann) and Wild Thing, an International Cadet skippered by Thomas Cooper) winning the trophy.

Runners-up was the RYCT team of three Sabots, Pacemaker (Nicholas Smart), Nemesis (Nick Allard) and Red Herring (Sam King) and third place going to a second RYCT team comprising a Laser Radial, Bon Voyage (Owen Davidson), the 420 Feel Addicative (Anna Vaughan) and the Bic Techno sailboard, Bic Board (Morgan Davies).