The tall ship R Tucker Thompson jostles for space just ahead of the noon start off Russell Wharf. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Near-perfect sailing conditions and a field associated with almost 80 vessels marked a welcome return to normality for Russell’s annual Tall Ships and Classical Invitational Race on Saturday.
Last year’s race had to be replaced by a scaled-down event called Not the Tall Ships Race, minus the usual hāngī and post-race party, so Northland’s boating enthusiasts were eager in order to get back on the water and back together with old mates.
The 2023 event — always one of the particular highlights of the Bay of Islands’ social and sailing calendar — featured a separate division with regard to junk-rigged vessels for the first time.
Nine junks entered, with Shoestring , skippered by Gordon Gregg, taking home typically the brand-new trophy, and the Murphy family of Whangārei claiming line hours with Arcadian .
The classic invitational was won by Ōpua sailing veteran Cees Romeyn, 80, on Nexus , with his daughter and granddaughter as crew. Caprice , a wooden yacht known as a 30 Square Metre which was skippered by Brett Avery, took out line honours.
The wooden ketch Karie-L triumphed in the tall ships division, while Zindabar , an Elliott 1850, was once again first across the line.
Perhaps the biggest head-turner in the all-comers division was the racing sloop Innismara , built in the 1960s and fully restored after being badly damaged by fire.
The particular 67-footer shot straight to be able to the head of this fleet after the noon starting signal and completed the 16-nautical mile course to Nine Pin plus back in just a fraction more than one hour and 45 minutes.
The winner on handicap within the all-comers was Eliminator .
The tall ships and classics competed on a 12nm course, while the junks raced 10nm.
Russell Boating Club commodore Bruce Mitchinson said Saturday’s conditions were just about ideal.
“Most years we have to wait around for a sea breeze to kick in, but we had at least a 15-knot north-easterly off-wind at the start. We don’t get that too often. It meant everyone was going for it in addition to lined up from the start. ”
Some crews took the race seriously, but for many, it was their one competitive event of the year.
It was the chance to catch up with old friends, admire each other’s boats, and even enjoy the spectacle regarding the Bay of Islands crammed with sails together with classic vessels dating back a century or more.
Mitchinson said it was a new big event for a small club, and a huge effort by the volunteers who put on often the hāngī, many of whom weren’t even sailors.
“They want to show how big a hāngī they can put on — it’s one of your biggest in New Zealand — and show people what Russell is all about. ”
The prize-giving and hāngī were followed by the traditional post-race party, with the exact acoustic Windjammers playing in the clubhouse and covers band Tangent rocking the marquee.
Tall ships: 1 Karie-L , 2 Tarua , 3 Calypso , 4 Long White Cloud , 5 Saskia . Line honours: Zindabar .
Classic invitational: 1 Nexus , 2 Pursuit II , 3 Vim , 4 Foucade , 5 Westerly I . Line honours: Caprice .
Junk rigs: 1 Shoestring , 2 Tystie , a few Gipsy Rose , 4 Zebedee , 5 Arcadian . Collection honours: Arcadian .
All-comers: 1 Eliminator , 2 Idle Time , 3 Simply Red , 4 Scout , 5 Innismara . Range honours: Innismara .
Typically the winners of the best wooden boat and best gaff-rig titles were not known upon race day due to a software glitch. Go to russellboatingclub. org. nz/results/tall_ships_2023. htm regarding full results; see northernadvocate. co. nz for many more photos.