Sydney sailors, joined by crews from Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand, celebrated Australia Day 2001 and the Centenary of Federation last Friday, January 26, when an appropriate fleet of 101 yachts contested the 165th Australia Day Regatta on the Harbour.
Offshore, a further 53 ocean racing yachts sailed in the traditional race to Botany Bay and return while hundreds more dinghies, skiffs and catamarans contested regattas organised under auspices of the 165th Australia Day Regatta at other coastal waterways in New South Wales.
The winners and placegetters will receive a specially struck Australia Day Regatta and Centenary of Federation Medallion, based on a gold medal won in the 1901 Federation Regatta by James McIntosh, a member of the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, sailing the first Sianora. Among those to win a medallion is Macintosh's great grandson, Rob Evans, also a member of the SASC, who 100 years later took line honours and finished second on corrected time with Celeste in the Classic Yachts spinnaker division of the 165th Australia Day Regatta. The original gold medal, now owned by the SASC, has been re-dedicated as a perpetual trophy for a Gaff Rig or Classic division race in the Australia Day Regatta as the Centenary of Federation Trophy (Sainora Medal). For the 2001 Regatta, the gold medal has been awarded to the winner of the Gaff Rig division, Sylvia, a replica of an historic Queenscliff couta boat owned and skippered by Sydney yachtsman Phillip Kinsella.
Yachts competing in the 165th Australia Day Regatta on Sydney Harbour ranged from the newest Olympic class, the Yngling, through Classic and Gaff Rig yachts, Etchells and Dragons to the Danish Volvo 60, Nokia, the record-slashing line honours winner of the 1999 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race.
Offshore, the 53 boat fleet included the line honours and overall handicap winners of the recent 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart, the 80-footer Nicorette from Sweden and the Adelaide-owned SAP Ausmaid. Neither won this race, sailed over a 25 nautical mile offshore course in light winds, line honours going to the 80-footer Shockwave, the odds-on line honours favourite which retired from the Sydney to Hobart soon after entering a galeswept Bass Strait. Shockwave, skippered by Sydney-based New Zealand yachtsman Neville Crichton, also won IRC division 1 on corrected time, while IMS division 1 went to True North, a Beneteau 40.7 owned by Howard and Susan Piggott.
On the Harbour, Nokia took line honours in Division 1, but placed last on corrected time, the winner being Akela, a Jutson-designed specialist harbour racer helmed by Steve Sweeney.
The Australia Day Regatta, with many crews comprising family and friends, includes non-spinnaker divisions and the Classic Yachts non-spinnaker division saw three famous former ocean racing yachts fight out the finish. Fidelis, Nigel Stoke's former New Zealand 66-footer that took line honours in the 1966 Sydney to Hobart, finished first from David Champtaloup's Caprice of Huon, a member of the Australian team which won the Admiral's Cup in England in 1967, and Ken Pryor's Struen Marie, overall winner of the 1951 Sydney to Hobart. On corrected time the winner was the classic 7-metre class boat, Antara, skippered by Ian Kortlang. With Caprice of Huon second and Struen Marie third.
Guests aboard the Regatta flagship, HMAS Kanimbla, included three of the four gold sailing gold medallists at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell (470 women) and Mark Turnbull who with Tom King won the 470 men. The Olympic gold medallists had that morning been named in the Australia Day Honours list as receiving the OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for their performances.