|Middle Harbour Regatta|
Middle Harbour Regatta 1912
Regatta Day at The Spit
|Year Held From/To||1897 to 1972|
Middle Harbour Regatta
From MHYC: The First 60Years
Article by: John Stanley
The original regatta was inaugurated in 1897 and continued until 1912. It was next held in 1959. The person responsible for its revival was Fred Zemanek. Fred finshed Middle Harbour with his fish traps during the week, as well as conducting an SP bookmaker service on the side. He was also involved in the Middle Harbour VJ Club with his sons, and was a great organiser.
He convinced the Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Middle Harbour 16-foot Sailing Club, Middle Harbour VJ Sailing Club, Balmoral Moth Club, Northbridge VJ Club and Seaforth Moth Club to combine forces and hold the regatta again.
Sailing in this era was amateur sport at its best. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters were involved, whether it be building, sailing, being on committees, or just helping out at the clubs. Junior and senior teaching of the sport was at every club; they were their own schools. The skiffies and the yachties were great rivals and the enthusiasm of the committees from different clubs was outstanding.
The one-day regatta of 1959 turned into a two-day regatta in 1960, with ten classes on Saturday and 12 classes on Sunday. A feature in 1960, the Cock of Middle Harbour, became a major highlight of the regatta every year. The champion boat from each class would start in a flying start with a YA Yardstick handicap for the final result, which was always controversial. That year also saw the introduction of a flagship, Vim.
The February Meeting paid tribute to the work of the Middle Harbour Regatta Committee for the magnificent Regatta that they planned and staged. In all, 469 yachts took part in the races and spectators were able to watch at close hand the performances of all classes from the famous Regatta Flagship Vim down to little Moths. The organisation, both from the racing entrants' point of view and from the spectator/visitors' viewpoint was excellent.
Subsequent flagships were the beautiful schooner Astor (line honours winner in the 1961 Sydney to Hobart), the ketch Lauriana and, in 1965, Barranjoey, Bill Northam's 5.5-metre yacht (which won Australia's first sailing gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, skippered by Northam and crewed by MHYC members Dick Sargeant and Pod O'Donnell). Gordon Ingate's Admiral's Cup racer Caprice of Huon and team-mate Ted Kaufinan's Mercedes III were also flagships.
1972 saw the last Middle Harbour Regatta, and the end of a glorious chapter in Middle Harbour's history.