Celebration of sail returns to Russell
One of the Bay’s most anticipated sailing events returns this weekend when the Russell Boating Club hosts its 44th Tall Ships and Classic Invitational race.
While there’s no way of knowing how many boats will turn up until race day, past years have drawn as many as 100 vessels dating back as far as the 1880s.
Although trophies are awarded for line honours and handicap winners in tall ships and classic divisions, the day is really about catching up with old sailing buddies and checking out each other’s lovingly restored boats.
For the purposes of Saturday’s race the definition of a tall ship is any monohull with two or more masts measuring more than 30 feet (about 9m) on deck, while the invitational is open to classic boats of at least 22 feet (6.7m) with any rig. An all-comers fleet will be open to any other sail-powered vessels, including multihulls, but they won’t be eligible for prizes.
Prizegiving will be followed by a hangi for as many as 800 people at the boating club’s Matauwhi Bay headquarters. Those with energy left for dancing can head for the clubrooms, for old-time music, or rockier in the marquee.
The racing starts at noon off Russell. For those who don’t have boats but still want to catch the spectacle, try the lookouts at Waitangi Golf Course or Maiki (Flagstaff) Hill and Tapeka Pt in Russell. The best viewpoint, however, will depend on the course, which is weather dependent and only set on the morning of the race.
The sailors will face an extra challenge this year with the Sun Princess parked in the middle of the Bay on Saturday, though the race will be a treat for the estimated 2000 passengers on board.
■ More sailing news on page 20.