Regatta History



The first Auckland Regatta was held on the day the city was founded, 18 September 1840, the day that Captain Hobson's officials raised the flag and 11 years before the first America's Cup contest was sailed in 1851.That first regatta on the Waitemata Harbour was an impromptu three-race event that took place after representatives of Lieutenant Governor William Hobson rowed ashore from the barque Anna Watson and took formal possession of the site in the name of Queen Victoria. A report in The New Zealand Advertiser and Bay of Islands Gazette of 24 September 1840 said the official party rowed back to the Anna Watson and then: “After partaking of luncheon, a regatta took place between a five-oared gig belonging to the Surveyor-General and a six-oared gig belonging to the Anna Watson, both pulled excellent style by amateurs. This was followed by a match for a purse of five pounds between two whale-boats pulled by sailors, and by another between two large canoes paddled by natives.”


There were two official Regattas, one to commemorate Irish born Hobson's arrival in September and the second to honour St Patrick on March 17th. The date was shifted from September to 29 January.Holding a Regatta was not easy - boats were in such short supply that any vessel arriving in harbour with a long boat was pestered to sell it. 


The Auckland Anniversary Regatta became recognised as the official celebration of the arrival of Captain Hobson in New Zealand.In the early years boats such as the gigs, dinghies, whaleboats and Maori canoes provided the interest. Some of the most exciting Regattas were the events for fishing boats such as the centreboard mullet boats that were converted to cruisers. Compared to the keelers, they were cheaper, easier to moor and quite suitable for holidays. 

Late 1890's - early 1900's

Many of today's venerable yachts competed in their maiden races on Anniversary Day - a builders’ showcase was an apt description of the Regattas. 


The Regatta was cancelled due to the war in South Africa. 


Power craft made their debut. 


The first Anniversary Regatta speed championship was held. 


Handicaps, often a bone of contention, led to the appearance in the 1917 Regatta of the x class, the first single design boat. 





Proving the adaptability of the Regatta was the inclusion in 1919 of a flying race, the first in the Southern Hemisphere involving a seaplane and two flying boats which took off from Kohimarama. 


Entries gradually increased until the Auckland Anniversary Regatta grew to be the biggest one-day Regatta in the world. Post-war to the present day was an exciting time in the yachting world with new materials, more yachts, more classes. With New Zealand's expert yachtsmen starting to challenge the world, the Regatta committee decided to introduce races for Olympic and International classes.


The first sailboard made its appearance early in the 1970's when an American became tired of surfing and raised a sail. 


A multiplicity of classes is catered for today from slick racing machines which can challenge the world without shame, to tiny radio controlled yachts. Among the slick racers to honour the Regatta in recent years has been the late Sir Peter Blake's trimaran "Steinlager". 


Saw the arrival of the tugboats on the scene, an event which commandeered the attention of the media. The sight of 21 tugboats churning up the Rangitoto Channel to Narrowneck Buoy and racing back to North Head was a sight to behold. The tugboat race was to become a major feature of the Regatta from this year on. 


The keelboat startline moved into the downtown city area off Princes Wharf, a move which proved to be a popular one for both spectators and participants


The 175th anniversary of the Auckland Anniversary Regatta, celebrated with a record turnout afloat and ashore and marked with a special commemorative booklet.


The 200th anniversary of the Auckland Anniversary Regatta!