Sailing celebrations

Peter Campbell previews the water-borne side of Australia Day

Friday January 24th 2003, Author: Peter Campbell, Location: Australasia
Thousands of Australian sailors will celebrate Australia Day afloat on Sunday, 26 January 2003 at major regattas around the nation, with thousands more expected on the water to watch organised aquatic and aerial displays on coastal and inland waterways.

The two major regattas will again be the 167 th Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour and the Festival of Sail 2003 on Geelong’s Corio Bay.

The 167 th Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour is the world’s oldest continuous sailing regatta; the Festival of Sail at Geelong is Australia’s largest regatta, with three days of competition.

A fleet of more than 80 boats, ranging from Sydney’s famous 18-foot skiffs and classic yachts to state-of-the-art harbour racing boats will contest the 167 th Australia Day Regatta on the Harbour, starting from 1.15pm on Sunday, as the nation celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet with white settlers to found the colony.

Yachts will race in handicap and one-design divisions, with the biggest being for Classic Yachts and Catalina Yachts and the new Olympic class from women, the Yngling keelboats.

Local Australia Day regattas for dinghy and small keelboat classes will be held at Hunters Hill, the Parramatta River, Rose Bay, Manly and Middle Harbour and inland on the Chipping Norton Lakes.

Hundreds more yachts, dinghies, skiffs and catamarans will take part in linked Australia Day regattas on Botany Bay, Port Hacking and Lake Illawarra south of Sydney, while to the north there will be regattas on Pittwater, Brisbane Waters at Gosford and on Lake Macquarie at Wangi Wangi.

Ocean racing yachts will compete for the prestigious City of Sydney Sesquicentenary Trophy in a short ocean race to Botany Bay and return, finishing off the Sydney Opera House.

Flagship for the 167 th Australia Day Regatta will be HMAS Manoora, whilst the RAAF and the Army will join with the Navy in special Defence Forces activities, including a flypast of FA-118 fighter aircraft and a parachute jump by the Army’s Red Beret unit.

Leading up to the 167 th Australia Day Regatta will be the spectacular Ferrython and a huge Parade of Sail on Sydney Harbour while later in the afternoon there will be a Tall Ships Race.

Racing for Victoria’s Festival of Sail started today with two short races for yachts contesting the Scotchman’s Hill series over the weekend, with Victoria’s Premier Steve Brack and America’s Cup winning skipper John Bertrand starting the traditional passage race from the historic Melbourne port suburb of Williamstown down Port Phillip to Geelong on Corio Bay on Saturday morning.

At Corio Bay, this fleet will join hundreds of other boats competing in the Festival of Sail, including Olympic 49er skiffs, traditional ‘Couta Boats (restored and replicas of fishing boats of the early 1900s), International Cadets, Sports Boats and various keelboat classes.

A highlight of the Australia Day Festival of Sail will be an 1858 Re-enactment Race for Classic and ‘Couta Boat classes, with the original silver trophy, won in 1858 by the yacht Paddy of Cork, still on display in the clubhouse of the Festival of Sail host club, Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

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