Cel­e­bra­tion of sail re­turns to Rus­sell

The Northland Age - - Sport -

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.

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