Auckland Anniversary a day of sails

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
Waitangi

SAILING STRONG: Classic yacht Waitangi was launched in 1894 and will be one of the many boats on display in the regatta.

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Yacht clubs are looking forward to a boating spectacle at the Auckland Anniversary Regatta on Monday.

It will be 173 years since the first regatta took place to mark the founding of Auckland in 1840.

The birthday celebration has now become one of the world's biggest one-day sailing regattas.

It includes all classes of sail boats, classic yachts, tugboats, waka and dragon boats on our waters.

Kohimarama Yacht Club will host the majority of the dinghy class races this side of the bridge.

Commodore Ross Simpson says the regatta stresses the importance of water to Auckland.

"There's a massive history behind sailing in Auckland and you can imagine it 170-odd years ago. One of the main things the pioneers of Auckland did was realise how important the harbour was and then went sailing."

Mr Simpson has seen the development of the regatta over his last 10 years with Kohimarama Yacht Club. The classic boat races are fun to watch but also educational, he says.

"Seeing that inspires these kid sailors to do things. They know they're part of something bigger."

Most of the club's sailors will be out competing on the Waitemata Harbour on Monday. The club is keen to encourage more Aucklanders, particularly young people, to get involved.

"As a child it teaches you to be very independent. No-one subs you off, you sub yourself off."

Club vice commodore Jason Morgan says the regatta races can be

competitive but there are many Aucklanders who just enjoy taking part.

"Some people love sailing for the sake of sailing."

Panmure Yachting and Boating Club has been involved in the regatta for the last 100 years.

Club captain Sue Harlum often competes in the tugboat race with her partner Dennis Christopher and his boat Sierra. Tug boats were introduced to the regatta in 2007 and are now a major feature of the race day.

Sierra is 95 years old and still going strong, Ms Harlum says.

"The race is really exciting but also quite scary. The tug boats will be the ones going in any weather, even if the other racing is cancelled."

Ponsonby Cruising Club has a great viewing point by the Harbour Bridge for the day.

Club commodore Robert Vallom says he has seen the number of boats involved in the regatta dropping over the last 40 years.

"It's such a playground out there. We're really lucky to be able to go sailing in this great place and more people should do it."

Glendowie Boating Club is also getting involved in the regatta with the starling class.

Club committee member Brian Peet says the club likes helping out.

"It's a chance for a little club to make a contribution to the New Zealand racing scene. This is just a neat way to celebrate sailing in New Zealand and add something to the regatta."

WANT TO SEE THE ACTION?

Auckland Anniversary Regatta will start at 9am on January 28 with tugboat and waka races. Dragon boat racing will start at 9.30am and a day of yacht racing in the Waitemata Harbour will follow.

Go to regatta.org.nz for an official programme.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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