Mahurangi Regatta brings history alive

Mar 20, 2017 General Interest

Scores of golden oldies assembled for this year’s Mahurangi Regatta – the 40th anniversary of this increasingly colourful and vibrant classic boat event, writes Lawrence Schaffler. Bryce Taylor took the photos.

Nearly 100 yachts competed in the racing, while more than 30 launches provided a magnificent
parade. The event continues to grow each year and is widely considered New Zealand’s largest classic and old boat regatta.

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Though celebrating the 40th milestone, the Mahurangi Regatta is, in fact, much older. The modern iteration is a revival of the old Settlers’ Regatta. The reincarnation took place in 1977 thanks to the efforts of the Mahurangi Action Group (formerly ‘Friends of the Mahurangi’), supported by the Mahurangi Cruising Club. The regatta remains the main event on the Cruising Club’s sailing calendar.

The restored scow, the Jane Gifford, served as start boat for the racing. Conditions were perfect, with a fresh sou’easter providing for exciting sailing – and plenty of jostling and yelling, particularly at the start line.

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First away was the Te Haupa Division Race for boats under 20 feet. They Included Frostbites, Mistrals and even an old Zeddie. The main event – The Mahurangi Cup Race – comprised a variety of designs. Among them wooden boats pre-1955, L-Class Mulleties, A Class – Gaff and Modern, and Traditional Class boats of any age but conforming to what the club calls ‘traditional spirit in their design’.

The Modern Classic Race followed. This is for boats designed between 1955 and 1985, but in the spirit of
inclusiveness more modern boats are allowed to take part. This year the boats were – for the first time – vying for two new trophies.

First on handicap is awarded the Teak Construction Trophy – inset with 14 medallions featuring notable
yacht designers of the era and a list of 14 others. The Line Honours Trophy is a Murray Minor bronze winch mounted on wood crafted from an old spreader off Sorceress – a well-known Mahurangi boat that belonged to one of the founding members of the Mahurangi Cruising Club.

Today’s race course is the same as that sailed in the original regattas held at the turn of the 19th century, and Thelma A10 participated again this year as she did then. Other notable boats racing this year were the old gaffers Rawhiti A2, Ngatira B2 and Aorangi A4.