Tug race to circuit Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour

By: Media Release

If you are venturing out on the Waitemata Harbour between the Harbour Bridge and Devonport between 10 and 11am on Auckland’s Anniversary Day, be sure to keep an eye out for the wakes of racing tugboats.

Tug race to circuit Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour
Up to 30 tugs will be racing in the Auckland Anniversary Day tug boat race.

Up to 30 tugs, tow boats and fishing boats of all shapes and sizes will be racing in the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta tug boat race, helping to celebrate 175 years since Auckland was founded.

"These boats leave a serious wake behind them," says tug race organiser Baden Pascoe. "The biggest, the William C Daldy weighs 346 gross tonnes and you can imagine the water it churns up when it’s going fast."

This is the first year that the famous race has been held in the inner harbour and it’s been moved from the waters closer to Rangitoto Island, so that more spectators can enjoy it.

But organisers suggest that small craft, including kayaks and paddle boards, keep clear of the course while racing is on.

The fleet will start off Princes Wharf at 10am, and the boats will race from Princes Wharf to a marker 500m off Orakei Marina, and across the harbour to North Head. They will then progress west to the Harbour Bridge where they will turn around and and finish off Princes Wharf.

The race will be followed by a firefighting demonstration taking place off Cook’s Wharf, and a parade into the Viaduct Harbour, where the boats will be judged.

Entrants include the Ports of Auckland’s brand new tug, Hauraki, Waipapa, and Waka Kume.

Classics and keelers will also start their races from 1140 the morning off Princes Wharf in grand style, and up to 400 other boats will be racing in 17 locations throughout Auckland.

With 36 Dragon Boat teams signed up to race in the Viaduct Harbour, entries are now closed in this event, but spectators will be able to get up close and watch.

The day is a festive one and the waterways are busy. The Regatta organisers say that small vessels in particular should be aware of the potential wakes that will be left by the tugs, and ensure they can handle the conditions before heading out, staying well out of the way of the racecourse.

As well as advising boaties to be aware of the large wakes the tugs can generate, Auckland harbourmaster Andrew Hayton also asks that all skippers observe the 12 knot speed limit in the Inner Waitemata Harbour, keep a proper lookout as it’s a busy day, and that lifejackets are worn on vessels under 6 meters.

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