SPORT - Balmain Regatta celebrates 160 years in October


Balmain Sailing Club’s annual Balmain Regatta is on again at the end of October — and this year marks its 160th anniversary.

Held on Sunday, October 25, it is one of Australia’s oldest sailing regattas, first held in 1849 and continuing until 1934, before being revived in 1994 by the Wooden Boat Association, and later taken on by Balmain Sailing Club.

According to Regatta chair, Brendon Stewart, the Balmain Regatta also has a tradition of raising funds for charity.

“This year, all raffle profits will benefit Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets, which supports homeless and drug addicted young Australians as they work to turn their lives around,” Stewart said.

“And as always, the emphasis of the Balmain Regatta will be on having fun on Sydney’s wonderful harbour, providing friendly competition in a very social atmosphere — and an event that is a real spectacle for participants and spectators, both on and off the water,” he said.

Joining Balmain Sailing Club in putting on the event are the Sydney Heritage Fleet (formerly the Sydney Maritime Museum) and other community organisations.

The event incorporates a full day of sailing and boating fun, including classic skiff races, along with tender, dinghy, classic and modern yacht races, as well as safety demonstrations and live entertainment from popular party band Slide McBride at the club.

In addition, crews representing Balmain’s local pubs will be racing on BSC yachts.

“Entry is open to anyone with a yacht or dinghy who would like to race in a historic event where the emphasis is on having fun,” said Stewart.

“In addition to Balmain Sailing Club entries, boats representing surrounding clubs are encouraged to participate, with an inter-club challenge in the dinghy fleet.

“We also welcome family, friends and visitors to join in the activities at the club during the day, with the small waterfront park next door making an ideal picnic area,” Stewart said.

In addition to the racing on the water, BSC volunteers and sponsors will combine to ensure that a wide selection of food and beverages are available throughout the day, along with a full entertainment program.

Stewart said that in recent years the Balmain Regatta had become a real celebration of Balmain, the club’s connection to Sydney Harbour, the boating industry, and its members’ love of sailing within the community.

“The event attracts over 150 vessels on the water, making it one of the great annual spectacles around Balmain,” said Stewart.

Races and events featuring throughout Balmain Regatta day include:
* The local Pub Challenge, with Balmain pubs sponsoring (and providing crew for) various yachts provided and skippered by BSC members;
* Local putt-putt motor boats race and display;
* Vintage skiff racing;
* Vintage wooden yachts, including vessels from the Australian Maritime Museum;
* Modern yachts, in three separate divisions;
* Modern dinghies (including Inter-club challenges);
* Tender races (including a “blindfolded” event) — which aim to engage youngsters and the local community while the fleet racing is happening; and,
* A demonstration of off-shore yacht safety equipment and rescue systems.

The regatta’s aim is to encourage community spirit, and raise funds and awareness for Youth Off the Street and the Balmain Sailing Club.

BSC is also seeking sponsors, promoters and possible suppliers of products that it can auction off or supply as prizes on the day.

The Balmain Regatta Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and Entry form are available from the club website 

For further information, phone (02) 9810 2086, email: