Classic yacht celebrates 100th birthday at Opening Day on the Derwent

The classic yacht Gypsy celebrated her 100th birthday in style on Hobart’s River Derwent this afternoon – leading a fleet of more than 220 yachts and motor cruisers in the traditional Sail Past to mark the Opening Day of the Yachting Season and also receiving the Beauty Prize.

Lieutenant Governor Alan Blow took the salute from the motor launch Egeria in Sullivans Cove as the biggest fleet in years sailed or motored past in line astern from off the Regatta Grounds. His Excellency chose Steve Knight’s yawl Gypsy for the Beauty Prize but also gave honourable mention to the tiny steam-powered launch Leprena, owned by Andrew Perkins.

Built at Eaglehawk Neck in 1914, Gypsy has been owned by the Knight family of Hobart since 1918, and current owner/skipper Steve Knight believes she has taken part in every Opening Day Sail Past from and including 1919.

Craft taking part in the Sail Past ranged from Laser dinghies through to ocean racing yachts and large cruisers with the conditions ideal on the Derwent, a light northerly breeze and a temperature of 24 degrees, albeit slightly cooler afloat.

Following the Sail Past, the majority of boats headed across the Derwent for a raft-up in the lee of Kangaroo Bluff where Opening Day festivities continued well into the afternoon.

Clubs taking part included the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, Bellerive Yacht Club, Geilston Bay Boat Clubs, the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania.

“We all agreed it was the biggest fleet seen on the river for an Opening Day in years,” said RYCT Commodore Richard Batt who took the salute with the Lieutenant Governor, assisted for part of the time by his 10-months-old baby daughter Lucy, wearing a suitable ‘sailor’s cap’ for her first Opening Day.

Combined Clubs yacht racing in southern Tasmania starts tomorrow (Sunday) with the Channel Race, a 30 nautical mile long race from Hobart down the Derwent to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and return.

– Peter Campbell

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