Historic regatta day revived

Ready to row . . . Raewynne Pedofski (left) and Jo Kidston try their rowing skills close to the shore before next weekend's resurrected Careys Bay Community Regatta Day. The West Harbour duo will be competing for line-honours in the dinghy rowing race. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

The Otago Harbour will be the backdrop for thrills and spills on the water in the Careys Bay Community Regatta Day, at Otago Anniversary weekend.

The old-fashioned family fete and regatta was a popular West Harbour community event for about 100 years, but ceased about 15 years ago.

Inspired by an anonymous poem, written in a pub on Regatta Day in 1911 and discovered recently in the ceiling of Port Chalmers Rowing Club, the event is being resurrected this year by a group of keen locals, led by Careys Bay Hotel co-owner Jo Kidston.

“Regatta Day used to be a really big day in Port Chalmers, when it used to coincide with the boating season,” Ms Kidston said.

“Thousands of people used to come down to Port Chalmers on the train or in their boats and make a day of it.

“We are hoping to re-create some of that next weekend.”

The road will be closed at Careys Bay for Regatta Day, which will run from 10am to 4pm, and will include both land-based and water-based activities.

The event, which is sponsored by Port Otago, will be officially opened by Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins.

On land, there will be food and fundraising stalls, music from the Mosgiel Brass Band, and old-fashioned fairground-style activities. While on the water there will be kayaking, a paddleboard relay, dinghy rowing, seagull outboard and classic launch racing.

Organising committee member Robbie Ballantyne is hoping that boaties and water sports enthusiasts, as well as businesses, from across Dunedin will get together, form teams, and come down to join the fun.

“It’s going to be a great family day, so we are hoping a lot of people will come and join us,” he said.

People are also encouraged to dress-up in Edwardian clothing if they wish, to add to the historic atmosphere of Regatta Day and Otago Anniversary weekend. There will be prizes for the best costumes.

Parking will be limited, so people are urged to park at Port Chalmers and either walk or take the free hotel shuttle to Careys Bay for the day. BYO deck chair.