“If you do just one regatta next year, make it this one.” That’s the message Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta organisers are sending out as they gear up for the 180th edition of the much-loved event on January 27, 2020.
With the notice of race published and entries now officially open, organisers are encouraging Aucklanders to grasp the opportunity to take part in this iconic event, whether participating or spectating.
“The regatta has always been an event for all Aucklanders,” executive officer Joyce Talbot said. “It’s a chance to get out and celebrate and be part of history, whether you’re on the water or watching from the shore. People have such fond memories of their parents taking them to watch the races on Anniversary Day, and that’s a tradition we’d love to continue.”
The regatta, which celebrates the founding of the City of Sails by encouraging Aucklanders to take to the water under sail, steam and paddle power, pre-dates the America's Cup by 11 years.
“People look at the America's Cup as a very special, historic event but they often forget we have just as much history right here on our doorstep," Talbot said. "The Auckland Anniversary Regatta is so closely tied up with the history of the city and its boatbuilders, and it’s really how Auckland became known as the City of Sails.”
The very first Auckland Regatta was held on the day Lieutenant Governor William Hobson's officials raised the flag, on September 18, 1840. It was an impromptu three-race event that took place after representatives of Hobson rowed ashore from the barque Anna Watson and took formal possession of the site in the name of Queen Victoria.
By 1940, as the regatta marked its first century, it had grown to become the biggest one-day regatta in the world, showcasing Auckland’s boatbuilding and sailing expertise around the globe. The event remains one of the biggest by number of participants, with more than 600 boaties expected to take part in the 2020 regatta.
It’s not yet known whether Team New Zealand’s foiling AC75 Te Aihe will be on the water during the 2020 regatta. But organisers note that the Auckland Anniversary Regatta again predates the America’s Cup in respect of ‘flying’ boats...
“In 1919, the Auckland Anniversary Regatta had the first flying race in the Southern Hemisphere,” Talbot explained. “It was a race between a seaplane and two flying boats, which took off from Kohimarama.”
Nowadays the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta attracts a huge fleet of vessels, including tall ships, gaff riggers, racing keelers, multihulls, sailing dinghies, radio controlled yachts, waka ama, elegant sea scout craft, perfectly restored classic yachts and launches, and an armada of tugboats.
Spectators can watch from vantage points around the city’s waterfront, including Westhaven, Queen’s and Captain Cook Wharves, Tamaki Drive, Bastion Point and North Head.
- Pic: Classic yachts are a popular feature of the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. Photo: Pete Le Scelle.