Hobart’s Combined Opening Day – 131 years of tradition

Galeforce winds sweep across the River Derwent today.
Club officials are confident that the gale force winds that have battered Hobart and southern Tasmania for two days will abate before Saturday’s Official Opening of the Yachting Season on the River Derwent.

North-westerly winds reaching 50 knots today turned the river into a mass of whitecaps while yesterday two yachts broke their moorings and ran aground on Nutgrove Beach, Sandy Bay.

However, the forecast is for light to moderate breezes and cooler weather for Saturday when the combined fleets of Hobart’s major yacht and motor boat clubs will provide a spectacular sail past in Sullivan’s Cove, where the Honourable Peter Underwood AC, Governor of Tasmania, will take the salute from the ML Masterpiece.

The Governor of Tasmania, Peter Underwood AC, takes the salute at last season's Opening Day

The Combined Clubs Official Opening will mark the formal start of a huge yachting season that will see nine prestigious national dinghy championships and a world dinghy championship, two major dinghy and keelboat regattas and an interstate keelboat clash on the River.

These events will be in addition to an expanded, summer-long program of combined club racing on the river and the traditional long ocean races.

Depending on the weather, up to 200 pleasure craft could be out on the river on Saturday for Opening Day, maintaining this grand spectacle that began more than 131 years ago with the Opening Day of the Derwent Yacht Club, which went on become the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Taking part will be fleets of dinghies, racing keelboats, cruising yachts and motor boats from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, Bellerive Yacht Club, Geilston Bay Boat Club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania.

The fleet will assemble off the Hobart Regatta Ground at 1.50pm, and from 2pm will set sail in line astern of the lead boat Defiant, skippered by the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania Commodore John Hebbink.

The Commodore of the RYCT, Graham Taplin, will be host to the Governor aboard Masterpiece, along with flag officers from other yacht clubs.

Printed programs for Opening Day are available at the RYCT and other major clubs, containing the sailing instructions for the day, including the starting times for each class from 2pm to 2.40pm.

The first race of the Combined Clubs Long Race Series this season will be the RYCT’s Channel Race on Sunday, 7 October with the first Combined Clubs Harbour Race Series on Saturday week, 13 October.