Pirate flags snapped in the brisk breeze, the sun glinted off foaming spray, and a fleet of sleek hulls carved through the water on Dargaville’s Northern Wairoa River — but this wasn’t a buccaneer invasion.
The jaunty pennants, bunting, flags and polished brass and chrome were all part of a parade of nautical classics — the 2018 Northern Wairoa Boating Club Regatta.
The day’s events on Saturday, March 31 were not just well-attended by representatives of the local boating community — they also attracted vessels and their crews from other spots around the mighty Kaipara harbour, such as Tinopai and Pahi.
All manner of boats made an appearance; from massive modern cruisers to nimble speedboats, anglers’ pride and joy, through to launches designed and built right here on the river.
The fleet navigated a course, which took them from one end of Dargaville to the other following the curve of the river, and spectators lined the waterfront along the route.
To keep the racing civil and decorous, it wasn’t all about flat out speed. Skippers had to round the course and then match their earlier time as exactly as possible, a feat of control, which was made all the more tricky by the rushing tide.
Seeing the proud flags flying and the spray blowing back from the bows, one could clearly picture those olden times when the Northern Wairoa River was a bustling arterial lane of commerce.
With a huge swag of prizes donated by the generous business leaders of the town, the regatta segued into a late afternoon and evening of cold drinks and good eating, carrying on the recent sterling reputation of the boating club’s kitchen. A fine time was had by all on and off the water, with the final day of daylight savings for the year farewelled in style.
April brings the beginning of trivia evenings at the boating club’s riverside headquarters, along with a continuation of their very popular Friday steak nights and Sunday roasts.
With the river full of vessels, the regatta provided a window on
the past when Dargaville was a bustling commercial port.