Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Thank God For The Classics


Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Thank God For The Classics

Ok, I’m going to upset a few – but……. I ask the question – has the AAR passed its use by date?

I think the answer is yes, in its present format. If it wasn’t for the classic fleet i.e. old boats (tugs, work boats, classic launches and yachts) there wouldn’t be many boats on the harbour on anniversary day. Maybe time for a reset, now here’s a thought – merge the event with the Classic Yacht Association’s annual classic regatta.

The reality is changing lifestyles and if people are honest, the Bay of Islands – Sailing Week has robbed the AAR of most of the modern sailing fleet. They in fact claim to be “the biggest regatta of its kind in NZ and one of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier yachting events” – not that long ago the AAR made similar claims. And on top of this the continuing growth of the Mahurangi Regatta that attracts huge numbers of wooden boats from near and far.

The AAR has being a happening thing for over 180 years, it would be a shame for it to continue to die a slow death, now’s the time to ask the big questions and future proof its existence – as an aside a large chunk of the AAR people are linked / involved with the CYA so should not be too hard…………Now where’s my hat – I’m leaving the room 🙂

Video footage for the 2021 regatta below – if you’re only into classic launches fast forward to the 1:14 mark 🙂

13 thoughts on “Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta – Thank God For The Classics

  1. In my reference to the regatta numbers yes I agree with Chris C that there have been many other events which have been added to the programme, I have in fact raced on launch Sterling on several occasions myself and recognise how great it is that these events such as the tugboat race ,waka racing and classic launch race have been included. My sadness however is over the lack of keel yachts racing. By the way, in my sailing in the regatta we ALWAYS sailed on the inner harbour to a buoy off the squadron to finish off Orakei, The course usually took us to Islington Bay to Motuihe and then back up the harbour to the bridge. That was where one saw the congestion on the harbour.


  2. I forgot to mention, Nate is 100 percent correct, the lady with the camera was really struggling to get a reaction from the yacht crews, I remember sailing/racing as being a fun past time, not the teeth pulling it seems to have become….. oh have to exempt Spray II from this, those guys are hilarious. Also Electron racing is great! like mini bumper cars at the marks…. excellent stuff.


  3. Jeeze Alan, some times you gotta quit while you’re ahead. I wasn’t aware NZ Herald is media still? We were on TV3 and One News, a news hub live broadcast, facebook live had thousands of watchers….. just because a few princesses in their A classes don’t turn up because they are afraid to race in the inner harbour or can’t muster the 30 crew they think is needed to sail their boat, doesn’t mean the regatta needs a re-think. I’d say your headline should read, “Anniversary Regatta, great despite the poor Classic Yacht turnout.”

    I drove the media boat and got to see the thousands of people out enjoying boating that Chris refers to, there was literally wall to wall sails around the coastline. Sure a day extra at Kawau would be great, but supporting a 180yr old event has more merit than drinking booze on the deck at KBC.

    The emails I have had saying how amazing the Launch race on Anniversary Day was are at least as valuable as all the negative ones you’ve had.

    Theres an old saying, “put up or shut up” if you’re not prepared to get on the AAR Committee and help make some change…. or at the very least make some proper suggestions on how Yachts will include themselves on the day then………..

    Love me.


  4. Well put Chris, but a lot of the activity you mention isn’t rarely boating, well not as most of us know it 🙂 The regatta you would be aware, as a ARR committee member, has always been spread across the Auckland Isthmus catering to broad water based activities, and it used to get extensive media coverage (NZ Herald front page and pages of photos inside) but no longer. So the situation today is that while the fringe activities may enjoy a few hundred sets of eyeballs at their venue – the ‘grandstand’ the Inner & Outer Harbour looks very bare. And that is where the photo journalist from the big reaching broadcast media takes their one photo.

    My view and backed by the many emails (most ever on a single topic) I received today – is, time to back the classics out of being a hero element in the AAR and expand the Mahurangi long weekend. Not burdening the MCC with anymore work, but the CYA hosting a casual event on Sunday (Kawau?) and cruising back on Monday – that may finish as part of the ARR.

    Food for thought – hopefully people are receptive to fresh ideas these days.
    FYI – I was at a CYA boat owners meeting several years ago, where most of the A-class owners/skippers were in attendance and tabled that they didn’t want to race back from Mahurangi on the Sunday – there was discussion round a more casual sailing day on the Sunday, and a social gathering on Sunday night. Then race back Monday, finishing at AAR. Certain non racing members, were not impressed. Interestingly in the meeting minutes, the topic was hardly mentioned. I asked why at the next CYA committee meeting and was told “it was just chat, not a formal discussion” yeah right.


  5. Here are some facts:
    There was centreboard and foil racing at Murray’s Bay, Manly, Narrowneck, Takapuna and Tamaki with over 250 boats taking part. Just take a guess at the number of parents on the beaches helping out.
    There were 400 paddlers in the dragon boats in the viaduct. The grand final was decided by 37/100th of a second! A big crowd watched. The adjacent watering holes did quite nicely, thank you.
    There were 38 paddlers in the waka race from Westhaven to Okahu Bay.
    35 keelboats started in the harbour and passage races v. 34 in the Squadron’s Round the Island Race at Kawau last weekend. But the lack of wind was not in the script.
    The harbour keelboat racing started at 12:00 so the Regatta is not responsible for a lack of yachts at 11:00. The classics requested a course outside the harbour because of the washing machine effect from certain oversized plastic fizz boats and got it. Great viewing from Takapuna Beach.
    Keelboats always started from Orakei and finished there until a few years ago and never raced in the inner harbour.
    The Regatta Committee is well aware of changing times and the timing of other events, by bringing in new events like the waka, dragon boat, tug boat and classic launch races, and radio controlled yachts.
    If it relied on keelboats alone, yes, it would be a different story. Results on


  6. Interesting day, Anniversary regatta. No two ways about it, Bay week has taken the yachts. But yachts love Bay week and it is their right to go where the racing is good, especially that they are prepared to sail that far north and back again. Perhaps it is a pity with timing, but there ae very few windows of opportunity and availability for regattas so I imagine the dates are a very well thought out process.

    Classic launch racing was great fun to watch. Pacific tied up to an unused Northcote mooring buoy to watch(not keen to race an engine with 2 hours on the clock)- a perfect spot! True to form of how yachts in the CYA treat launches- Pacific’s oldest ‘mate’ Frances sailed past within touching distance before a start and her crew stared straight through us as we gave a big friendly wave. This was experienced with various vessels through the day.

    I doubt that life has changed TOWARDS wanting extended cruises- more yachts these days are keen to turn around at a finish line and head straight back home, often forgoing after-race festivities so that they can make their dinner reservation at SPQR, I assume.

    Happy to see the AAR adapt in size and focus. Pacific will be there

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Bay of Islands Sail Week fleet have basically gone from Opua saturday morning. Some want to get back for the AAR , and life the way it is now some enjoy a 3 day cruise away from the city. Others treat AAR as a classic regatta now i have heard
    John Grant


  8. Hi Alan,
    You are 100% correct – the AAR has passed its use by date.
    It is time for the Classic boating fraternity and owners to make a call as to what best serves their purposes and aspirations.
    Personally, I’d like another day in Mahurangi / Kawau Bay. This year’s Big Boat race around Moturekareka was great, and another race around Kawau Bay on the Sunday (maybe a stop at KIYC for lunch?) would be perfect before sailing home on the Monday.
    Maybe such a classic weekend would allow the classic community to do something similar to Patio Bay on the Sunday evening. Getting the ‘wind burglars’ and ‘grease monkeys’ together is a great thing.
    Best regards – (A-Class Owner – Name Withheld by Alan H)


  9. I have sailed in the regatta for about 25 years up till about 2005.
    We eventually stopped racing because the harbour was so busy it made it a difficult to race safely. However I too have watched the decline of entries as Alan has mentioned due to the Mahurangi Regatta, family cruising and Bay of Islands week etc. On anniversary Monday I sailed down the harbour at about and barely saw another yacht, Despite the very considerable efforts of the Regatta committee I agree there needs to be a rethink, Classic yachts made their presence felt for sure this year and without them the harbour would have been naked, I do not have an answer but certainly the Regatta is dying in its present form,
    Simon smith T36 Hotspur

    Liked by 1 person

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