A grand day afloat on a sparkling River Derwent today launched Hobart’s Summer of Sail for 2018-19, with sailors turning out in their hundreds for their traditional Opening Day of the Sailing Season.
A record fleet of near 300 craft from six Derwent yacht and motor yacht clubs sailed and motored through Sullivan’s Cove, passing the anchored classic launch Egeria, each skipper standing to salute the Governor, Professor Kate Warner AC.
Many craft were ‘dressed ship’ with nautical pennants and flags fluttering from their forestays and crews of older craft traditionally dressed in sailing uniforms of the time.
Opening Day 2018 marks the 138th summer of organised yacht racing on the Derwent and the start of a major season that will bring to Hobart up to 150 ocean racing yachts in offshore races from Sydney, Melbourne and Launceston in late December.
In addition, there will be more than 500 off-the-beach boats from interstate and overseas for national sailing championships on the river in late December and January.
Derwent Sailing Squadron Commodore Steve Chau led the parade of sail in his pennant-winning Young 88 Young Lion.
Close astern, under her gaff rig, came the famous Tassie Too, the 90 year old champion the 21-foot Restricted Class interstate challenges between the two World Wars.
Her crew wore blue jumpers similar to those that ‘Skipper’ Batt and his team wore in their victories, with her helmsman yesterday being wellknown meteorologist Kenn Batt, a descendent of ‘Skipper’ Batt.
The classic yawl Gypsy sailed in her 101st Opening Day parade, her crew dressed in all white, while the small crew of Sea Scouts in their clinker dinghy were just as smartly clad.
Stand out in the crowd of craft was another famous yacht, the former America’s Cup challenger Gretel II, now based at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Aboard, at the invitation owner Michael Maxwell, were several off-the-beach teenage sailors, with the crew dressed in the Gretel II uniform of navy blue shorts and shirts, with an Australian flag emblem.
Conditions were ideal, a pleasant spring day with a 10 knot sea breeze as the fleet sailed line astern from off the Hobart Regatta Grounds into Sullivan’s Cove.
However, the southerly turned a bit feisty later in the afternoon for many of the boats rafted up off Nutgrove Beach.
“A wonderful day on the water for everyone, with Her Excellency not only taking the salute from every boat but also, with Mr Warner, undertaking the onorous task of selecting the winners of the Opening Day ‘Beauty Prize’,” RYCT Commodore Tracy Matthews said back at the club.
“After much serious deliberations they decided on joint winners, Golden Haze, name changed to Black Pig for Opening Day, and the former America’s Cup challenger Gretel II.
“John Bourke and his ‘pirate crew’ were really played for the part, while the Michael Maxwell and the crew of Gretel II included four young off-the-beach sailors with all the crew dressed in GII uniform,” the Commodore added.
The vice-regal judgments also included honorary mention of Gypsy, Trevassa, Tassie Too, Lara 2, Black Sheep and Pim. Black Sheep was noted for the number of five-year-old on the weather rail, all wearing their PDFs.
Nominated by the vice-regal party for his etiquette was Captain John Sololmon, who blew his bosun’s whistle and dipped the ensign on Sole Mio as they passed Egeria.
Marshall vessel for the huge fleet was Commodore Matthews’ Baby Grand while Vice Commodore Stephen ‘Rowdy’ McCullum gave a running commentary for guests aboard Egeria.
Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Penny Conacher, Peter Campbell
6 October 2018