220-plus fleet out for Opening Day on Derwent

The gaff-rigged cutter Terra Linna that sailed in the inaugural Opening Day of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania season in 1880 yesterday joined more than 220 yachts, motor yachts and off-the beach dinghies in celebrating the start of the 2015-2016 summer of sailing on the River Derwent.

Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania members spent four years restoring the Huon Pine 28-footer with its double-ended hull shape, centerboard and gaff rig.

Crewed by members of the Guild, Terra Linna yesterday hoisted a gaff mainsail, jib and staysail to give a grand display of how she might have sailed and raced on the Derwent 135 years ago.

In 1880, she was one of just 15 yachts on the register of the Derwent Sailing Boat Club, the club that was the genesis of what is now the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

That year the small fleet of yachts performed “sailing maneuvers off Battery Point”, according the history of the RYCT.

Yesterday, the huge fleet sailed in line astern from just south of the Tasman Bridge into Sullivan’s Cove where the Lieutenant Governor, Chief Justice Alan Blow, took the salute aboard the historic motor yacht Egeria.

Boats from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, Bellerive Yacht Club, Motor Yacht Club, Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Geilston Bay Boat Club took part in the Sail Past.

“Today’s Sail Past must have been the largest fleet we have seen on the river in many years,” commented RYCT Commodore Matthew Johnston who joined the Lieutenant Governor, adding “of course, the weather was perfect.”

Commodore Johnston’s remarks were supported by his father, Rowan Johnston, a Life Member, Past Commodore and member of the RYCT since 1953 who was also on board Egeria today.

The Lieutenant Governor’s other role was to select the winner of ‘Beauty Prize’ from among fleet, his choice being Trevassa, owned by the Muir family.

The honour of leading the Sail Past this year went to the Commodore Steve Chau of the Derwent Sailing Squadron, at the helm of his yacht Young Lion.

The light sea breeze enabled most of the yachts to hoist sails with a fleet of the newest boats in Hobart, six Pacer training dinghies following Young Lion in line astern.

Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Elise Archer had christened the Pacers earlier in the day and even went for a short sail in one named ‘Elise’ to record the Club’s appreciation of her efforts to obtain a $30,000 Government grand towards building the dinghies.

Among other lovingly restored wooden yachts taking part today were the 101-year-old yawl Gypsy and the Derwent classer Wendy, but the majority of the fleet were modern yachts built of fiberglass or even more exotic carbon fibre. including the 2015 Sydney Hobart Race contender Cougar II.

In size, the fleet ranged from a couple of high-flying foiler Moths and the Pacer dinghies through to Cougar II and several large cruising yachts.

Motor yachts were packed with spectators, among them being 93-year-old Mrs June Nicholas, a longtime social member of the RYCT, who took part in the Sail Past aboard her son Mark’s Shalimar.

At the other end of the age scale were the 10-year-old for’ard hands sailing the Pacer dinghies.

Following the Sail Past, most of the fleet headed for Nutgrove Beach, for the traditional rendezvous and raft-up – in itself a rare spectacle on the river - that continued until late afternoon.

Peter Campbell
11 October 2015

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