Annual Tall Ships Race

For over 35 years, the Annual Tall Ships race has been held in the Bay of Islands in early January. A light-hearted spectacle of sail, it's a great event!

There is a quiet excitement in the air today, as the beginning of January marks the traditional Russell Boating Club Tall Ships and Classic Invitation race. This year is the 38th event and it is the annual  fundraiser for the Russell Boat Club. Various vessels compete for some stunning trophies and of course the traditional bottle of rum.

As well as the spectacle of sail with the boats on the water, there is also the treat of the traditional hangi and party later in the evening.

The hangi is one of the largest served on a regular basis, Hangi fire being startedand the hangi crew cater for approximately 1000 hangi packs which feed the sailors, friends, visitors and guests. Under the watchful eye of the late hangi master Joe Cotton, whose photo hangs above the crew in the tree, it is a great spectacle to see the hangi pit opened after prizegiving…. and smell the amazing aromas wafting out.

And then it’s time to party; with two bands playing traditional swing and rock, there is something for everyone!

Over the years there have been the occasional disaster… such as the year the club was burgled, and last year’s appalling weather, but the triumphs of the event is that year in year out, it is one of the best parties in town. Where else can you get a traditional hangi, packed full with chicken, pork, beef, veggies and stuffing for only $15? A recommended donation of $5 to cover the music in the clubrooms and marquee means that for just $20, you can enjoy a full night’s entertainment (NB 2013 prices, subject to increase).

If you want to take part in the race itself, there are generally places on board the R. Tucker Thompson or The Breeze that regularly comes up from Auckland or head down to the Russell Boat Club the day before to find out if there are places on any private boats.

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