Two years after European settlement, Captain Hart of the 'Porcher'
and Cook of the 'Eden' raced each other on the Port River
for the amusement of their shore-going friends. The event, augmented with 
whale boat and gig races and  ‘duck’ hunts, became a fixture on the
Port Adelaide calendar for well over a century.  The rage for sailing and rowing regattas soon gripped the rest of South Australia.

Rowing trophy lidSouth Australian Maritime Museum

Following Hart and Cook's race in 1838 the annual regatta on the Port River soon became a regular and highly popular fixture on the Adelaide sporting calendar. The race might be seen as part of colonial efforts to recreate a slice of England in a new 'backyard'. With his stove-pipe trousers and jaunty boater, the figure on this trophy lid reflects English sporting traditions imported to South Australia.

Port Adelaide Regatta trophy (1860-01-01/1870-12-31)South Australian Maritime Museum

The 1866 Port Adelaide Regatta was well attended with the South Australian Register reporting that the river was 'alive with interested spectators'. The steamer Goolwa served as flagship and the Eleanor and Young Australia ferried spectators to different spots during the day. The regatta comprised several sailing and rowing races as well as a number of novelty events. The cup was resented by his Excellency Sir Dominic Daly (Governor of South Australia) to the winning four oared gig Edith crewed by J Shaw (Stroke), WH Hopkins, Smith, Ring (bow), J Fletcher (Cox).

Port Adelaide Regatta Programme Port Adelaide Regatta ProgrammeSouth Australian Maritime Museum

At the 1888 Port Adelaide Regatta yachts, fishing vessels and coastal vessels competed in a series of events held throughout the day. Oarsmen also participated and there were novelty games such as Greasy Pole and Duck hunt.

Port Adelaide Regatta Programme Port Adelaide Regatta ProgrammeSouth Australian Maritime Museum

The 1907 Port Adelaide Regatta included serious sail races and amusements such as greasy pole competitions. Thousands attended from the local community and beyond.

Regatta Programme Regatta ProgrammeSouth Australian Maritime Museum

The South Australian Rowing Association held a regatta on the Port River, Saturday 21 February in 1925. Races included Champion eight sculls, Maiden clinker fours, and the Le Hunte rowing cup. Officials adjudicated from the deck of the SS Vigilant and the Commonwealth, Adelaide, Torrens, Port Adelaide, Mannum, Renmark and Murray Bridge rowing teams all competed.

Henley on Hindmarsh Badge (1921-01-01/1921-12-31)South Australian Maritime Museum

The popular tradition of regattas soon spread around South Australia.

Brighton sailing regatta badge (1919)South Australian Maritime Museum

Other events began to be held, along with the popular rowing regattas, including sailing regattas.

Dallas Brooks Trophy Dallas Brooks TrophySouth Australian Maritime Museum

Part of the thrill of regattas is the competition, and the honour of winning a trophy.

The Dallas Brooks trophy, named in honour of a former Governor of Victoria, was awarded annually from 1951 to the winners of Australian 12sq. Metre Championships and Australian Lightweight Sharpie Championships.

Tintara TintaraSouth Australian Maritime Museum

South Australian, Sir James Hardy, was one of the most accomplished sailors of this type of vessel in Australia and won the Dallas Brooks trophy in 1959. The museum owns four of his vessels including his sharpie ‘Tintara’, built for the Olympic trials in Melbourne in 1956.

Tintara (1956-01-01/1956-12-31)South Australian Maritime Museum

Lightweight sharpies with shallow drafts were suitable for South Australia's gulf waters and were embraced with enthusiasm.

The Australian Sharpie is a three-person sailing dinghy which has evolved from the 12-square-metre class sailed in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Sharpies are 19 feet,  11 3⁄4 inches long, with a planing hull and a single mast. Sharpies race with a fully battened mainsail, a jib and a spinnaker. They are sailed competitively in all six Australian states.

Smith Grand Challenge Cup, 1881 Smith Grand Challenge Cup, 1881South Australian Maritime Museum

This trophy was awarded at the inaugural Torrens Lake rowing regatta, 1881.

The tradition of the Henley-on-Torrens Regatta continues in the twenty-first century. Adelaide Rowing Club hosted the event in November 2014, and it proved an exciting day of racing.

Its success illustrates how regattas remain popular, both as competitive sport, and as community events.

Credits: Story

All images are from the South Australian Maritime Museum Collection. Click through images to check licences for individual images

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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