“Would you like to do the Tall Ships Regatta with us?” asked the skipper of the boat I usually crew on at the Kerikeri Cruising Club.
“What’s the Tall Ships Regatta?” I asked?
That’s not quite the silly question it may appear to be.
Because in the 2016 edition there weren’t any tall ships: the weather had been too rough for them to make their way to the Bay of Islands.
Instead, there were probably a couple of hundred other boats of every size, shape, age, design and construction type. Classic yachts, steel offshore cruisers, race boats, multihulls, junk-rigged vessels… you name it, it was there.
I have never seen such a variety of sailing boats all racing together – it was an amazing spectacle!
The camaraderie out on the water was quite unique too. When the boat I was racing on approached one of the rounding marks, the skipper called out to the classic old-time sailboat on port tack, “I’m very sorry to do this to you, but Starboard!”
Explanation: boats on Starboard tack, i.e. when the wind is coming from the starboard side, have priority over boats on Port tack. This is one of the basic rules of the ‘road’ in sailing.
The Talls Ships Regatta is also known for its spectacular after-race function: two bands (usually a rock band and a jazz band), a hangi, and a party to end all parties. I didn’t get the chance to go this year, but I’ll most certainly be there next year.
And if you ever get the chance to take part in the Tall Ships Regatta, do it, it is a fabulous experience – and with spectacular scenery as well. The Tall Ships Regatta is organised by the Russell Boating Club.