Opening Day…a grand tradition on the Derwent
Opening Day of the Yachting Season for 2018-19 in Hobart tomorrow will mark 138 years of organised yacht racing – and a grand tradition – on the River Derwent.
With a pleasant Spring day forecast, a fleet of more than 200 harbour and ocean racing yachts, cruising yachts and motor cruisers will take part in ‘Combined Maneourvres’ in historic Sullivan’s Cove.
The fleet, representing the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, Bellerive Yacht Club, the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania, Geilston Bay Boat Club and the Cruising Yacht Club Tasmania, will set sail/motor in strict order at 2.00pm from a line off the Hobart Regatta Grounds and proceed into Sullivan’s Cove
Among the yachts in the parade of sail will be the classic yawl Gipsy taking part in Opening Day for the 101st time and the famous Tassie Too which 90 years ago dominated interstate yacht racing in the 21-foot Restricted Class.
Joining the Opening Day celebrations will be the famous America’s Cup challenger Gretel II, now berthed in Hobart at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Gretel II will also compete in the RYCT’s opening race of the summer season, the 30 nautical mile Channel Race, starting at 10am on Sunday from off Castray Esplanade.
Off-the-beach dinghies expected to take part in the Opening Day Sail Past will include Lightweight Sharpies and spectacular Foiler Moths, the occasional ‘gentleman’s steam launch’ and possibly the odd ‘tinnie’ and kayak.
Professor The Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania, and Commodore in Chief of the RYCT, will officially take the salute aboard MV Egeria, anchored in Sullivan’s Cove as boats motor/sail past in line astern.
The famous Tassie Too will follow close astern, helmed by Kenn Batt, a descendent of Tassie Too’s designer and original skipper, ‘Skipper’ Batt.
Opening Day has been blessed with perfect weather in recent years with some 220 craft motor/sailing in line astern past Egeria last year and forecast for this Saturday looks good.
Hobart’s Opening of the Yachting Season is probably unique as this is a Combined Clubs event, although the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, founded in 1880, is traditionally the host club on the day.
Opening Day begins late-morning with a pipe band playing on the lawn to welcome the Governor to the club of which she is Commodore-in-Chief, before joining RYCT Commodore Matthews and Commodores or Flag Officers from other clubs aboard Egeria.
The fleet will assemble at 13:50 north of the marshalling vessel which will be moored south-east of the Hobart Regatta Ground and flying a blue flag in the rigging.
The fleet, many craft ‘dressed ship’, will leave Egeria to port in Sullivan’s Cove, the senior officer on board each participating craft saluting the Governor (and the Commodore).
Following the Sail Past in Sullivan’s Cove, and the convivial raft-up for refreshments off Nutgrove Beach, there will be live entertainment back at the RYCT.
Whatever the weather, the Opening Day fleet for the Yachting Season of 2018-19 will be a far cry from that reported by ‘The Mercury” 138 years ago.
The new (or revived) club revitalised yacht racing on the Derwent, in 1889 changing its name to the Derwent Yacht Club and in 1908 being granted a royal warrant as The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Nine vessels assembled for the Opening Day of the 1881-1882 yachting season and ‘went through various manoeuvres’ under the direction of Captain Stanley RN, Commodore the Club.
The fleet sailed in a fresh breeze that ‘enabled the sailing qualities of the boats and the skills of their skippers to be judged’…..according to a ‘Mercury’ report recorded ‘Sailing on…A History of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania 1880-1980.
A week later, seven yachts assembled off Castray Esplanade for the first race of the season won by HW Knight’s Terra Linna, a 28ft double-ender, now restored and expected to take part in the Opening Day Sail Past.
This season, the RYCT’s first race of the season, the Channel Race will be sailed on Sunday, 7 October. The first Combined Clubs Summer Pennant Series race is scheduled for the following Saturday, 13 October.
• Today’s ‘Mercury’ includes a full page preview of Opening Day and the sailing season of 2018-19 on the River Derwent.
Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Peter Watson, Michelle Denney, Peter Campbell
5 October 2018