Memory of Sir Peter Blake lives on in Torbay regatta


Torbay will come alive this weekend with the biggest centreboard regatta in the country as more than 400 children compete in the annual Sir Peter Blake regatta.

For many, it is the first major regatta they have participated in and that's highlighted by the fact the Optimist green fleet is usually the largest of all the classes.

Others, though, will want to get their name on the Sir Peter Blake Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the outstanding sailor of the weekend. Previous winners have included Peter Burling (2005) and Jo Aleh (2004) as well as Josh Armit (2015) and Sean Herbert (2016) who both won world titles this year.

"It's quite an illustrious alumni," said Mark Orams of the Torbay Sailing Club who together with the likes of Peter Montgomery was a key individual in setting up the regatta to honour the memory of Blake who was killed in 2001. "Peter Burling won as a 14-year-old, so it shows this regatta is a breeding ground for youngsters who have the potential to go on to international success."

The overriding objective of the regatta, though, is fun, along with other values that were important to Blake like the environment, team, leadership and taking on a challenge. 

"Since that first regatta in 2002, we have tried to stay true to the ethos of the original concept," Orams said, "that is to honour the memory of Peter, inspire children to be involved in the sport for life, learn about caring for the sea, adventuring and exploring and showing that it's possible to make a career out of the sport and other industries associated with sailing.

"We also have a theme every year and we chose team this time around because Peter was always about team first. He knew you could create wonderful teams who might not have the same money or resources or even talent as other teams but that you can take on those challenges and achieve in sport. We're seeing that now in the Volvo Ocean Race and the America's Cup before that.

"The message to the younger sailors is that they have a team around them with their parents, supporters, coaches, club and fellow sailors. If they work together as a team, they can achieve some amazing things."

A handful of members from Emirates Team New Zealand will be at Torbay this weekend and will bring the America's Cup with them.

It's bound to be another highlight of the weekend but is another aspect to be factored into what is a massive logistical exercise for the Torbay Sailing Club and local community. It's certainly more complex than the first regatta in 2002 when about 70 sailors from 8-10 youth classes all competed on one course - four courses will be used this weekend.

More than 20 classes will line up for the first day of racing on Saturday and will range from the Optimist and Starling to Moth and Nacra 17.

"The regatta has grown and grown to the point it's a massive event from a logistical point of view," Orams said. "It's not just the sailors but also the parents, supporters and coaches. We're having to cater for up to 800 people and that means closing the road and taking over the beach, reserve and parking.

"For some local people that's an inconvenience so we really appreciate the community support and the fact they see it as a special event."

Entries close on Wednesday evening, except Optimist green fleet which is open until Friday evening. It is possible to enter up until Saturday morning but will incur a late fee.

See the official website for more information and to enter.

28 Nov 2017
28 Nov 2017