Historical skiffs regatta in Taree

A REGATTA for Australian Historical 10 foot skiffs will be held on the Manning over the weekend of March 29 and 30, hosted by Taree Aquatic Club for the first time.

This has attracted entries from Sydney, their traditional home, along with Lake Macquarie. With local sailing interest running high two crews from Taree have nominated to sail additional skiffs and chance their hand against the visiting contingent.

The regatta will be a two event program, a handicap race for the 10 footers, starting at 2pm on Saturday held in conjunction with the club's normal race, and a scratch start championship race on Sunday.

These exciting skiffs were re-instituted around 1990 as a class of the AHSSA. They are a combination of close replicas like Ramona II (on the lines of the Brisbane River Dove built from the early 1900s) now sailing from Lake Macquarie and entered in this regatta. Many of the later boats are from NSW 18 foot skiff legend, Len Heffernan, who drafted the lines for the very successful Ron Johnston-built Wrecker. These skiffs are sailed with a minimum of three crew and carry unlimited sails on gaff or gunter rigged wood spars.

In the historic sailing skiff tradition of these small craft, the current sailors endeavour to match their predecessors for courage and skill, carrying huge working sails and spinnakers to win the prize on the day, finishing upright to receive the race committee's gun. Capsizes result in automatic disqualification.

The recent NSW championship was won by the current Australian champion Dale Jacobson, in a new skiff, Miss Marlene, built by Peter Jacobson at Cooranbong. Jacobson's aim is to continue their good form and rivalry with the small but quality fleet of contestants. State handicap champion, Irene - M, sailed by Col Gillespie off a low mark, will still be a chance in the Saturday race. Other local interest will be in Ramona II, with Craig Hunter for'ard and Michael Northam skippering his beautifully restored skiff, Kismet.

The local strength will come from Adam Cause sailing the very competitive skiff Uncle Fred and the Folkes family, Gordon and sons, making their 10 foot skiff debut in January, a good chance on handicap.

There are plans to make the Manning regatta an annual event.

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