The Royal Hobart Regatta has been staged annually for the past 175 years without a break, apart from 1967 when disastrous bush fires in southern Tasmania caused its last minute cancellation.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and its predecessors including the state colonial navies and the Royal Navy, has supported this event every year since its inception in 1838.
The first regatta was arranged by Governor Sir John and Lady Franklin as a form of relaxation and competition for the citizens of Hobart.
Aquatic events were organised and crews of visiting ships entered to compete with the Hobartians. The supporting on-shore activities also became popular with patrons and the whole gathering took on a carnival atmosphere.
That formula remains today but, as is the case with so many of Australia’s event organisers, securing sufficient volunteers to keep these events current is becoming increasingly difficult.
Once again, it was the Navy to the rescue as the Regatta committee was looking for volunteers to help ‘spruce up’ the John Colvin Memorial Grandstand at the Royal Hobart Regatta grounds.
Royal Hobart Regatta President, Geoff Lucas, expressed his gratitude to the RAN volunteers at a barbecue lunch held during the working bee.
Mr Lucas said the Royal Australian Navy had historically been a ‘good friend’ of the Royal Hobart Regatta and the enthusiasm with which the Navy volunteers approached the working bee was an excellent indication of ongoing support and goodwill.
“A team of eight, led by CMDR Stacey Porter cleaned, sanded and painted the southern section of the timber seating in this historic grandstand - in its traditional red and white colours.
“It looks fantastic, and is a great start towards restoring the grandstand to its original condition.
“We really value the contribution of this Navy team towards upgrading of the regatta facilities,” Mr Lucas said.
In another link with Navy, the repainted John Colvin Memorial Grandstand will be used by a large crowd of well-wishers who will gather on Wednesday 25 September 2013 to farewell a flotilla of ships heading to Sydney to participate in the Navy’s International Fleet Review.
The flotilla will include the nine tall ships and a collection of heritage and classic boats that are taking part in the Tall Ships Hobart event which is being held 20-25 September 2013.
The tall ships will be accompanied down the River Derwent by dozens of yachts which will make for a magnificent nautical spectacle as the Governor of Tasmania the Honourable Peter Underwood AC takes the salute from ML Egeria.