Two of Auckland’s most famous classic yachts will once again square off against each other at the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, on Monday, 28 January.
Ariki, once hailed as the Queen of the Waitemata, was unbeaten champion of the regatta from 1905 to 1937. On Anniversary Day she will sail again, following an absence of over 10 years, having been relaunched last year after an extensive refit by her new owners.
She will face-off against arch rival Ranger, the boat that famously dethroned Ariki in 1938, and went on to achieve her own 30-year era as champion of Auckland’s A-Class racing scene.
Ariki’s current owner, Andrew Barnes, says the story of Ariki and Ranger is central to the history of Auckland, and how it became known as the City of Sails.
“Ranger was built almost specifically to beat Ariki,” Barnes explains. “Boats like Ariki were built for the ‘top end’ of town – they were the Formula One cars of the richest families in Auckland. But Ranger was built by a tradesman in the ‘low end’ of town, and she became the undisputed champion of the Waitemata.”
It is a classic Kiwi underdog story, Barnes says. “The working class man builds a boat that beats the top end of town.”
While the gentry may have scoffed at Ranger – the home-built yacht of a harbour board crane driver – these days it’s Ariki which is the underdog, and Barnes admits Ranger will be tough to beat. With her more modern rig, Ranger is a dominant force on the race course, and took line honours with a 10 minute lead in last year’s Anniversary Regatta.
But Barnes and his crew of 12 on Ariki will be working hard to “show Ranger her transom,” as they start the A-Classic race at 12:25pm off Westhaven. Spectators can watch all the action, including the pre-start maneuvers of the classic yacht fleet, from around midday.
This year’s Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta is the 179th edition of the event, in which craft of all shapes and sizes take to water to celebrate Auckland’s birthday.
Over 600 participants are expected to join the regatta, in a bid to win cash prizes, a holiday in Hawaii, and the chance to make nautical history by having their name engraved on the regatta’s historic trophy collection.
A classic launch race, starting from Westhaven at 11:00am, will feature in this year’s regatta for the first time in over 100 years, while old favourites like the tugboat race and display are expected to draw large crowds to Captain Cook Wharf from 10:00am.
At other venues across Auckland, dinghy and board sailing will take place throughout the day. Maraetai Sailing Club is set to welcome over 300 youth sailors taking part in the regatta, which coincides with the last day of the Auckland Championships for the Optimist, Starling, 29er, 420 and RS:Feva classes.
Takapuna Boating Club will host the Anniversary Weekend Championships for several classes, including the new breed of fast and furious foiling dinghies and kiteboards, with the likes of world class kiteboarders Sam Bullock and Justina Kitchen set to compete.
Enter online until Friday 25 January at: www.regatta.org.nz