NOTE – This is not intended a full history of the Hobart Regatta , merely some stories and facts that intrigued me.

My interest in the subject was piqued when I was cleaning some of my partner Rob’s old sailing trophies.  One was from the 1964 Hobart Regatta. First place to Priority in the International Cadet Class. He doesn’t remember much about the occasion, apart from having to first sail from Sandy Bay to the start line.

Cup won by Rob Conolly at the 1964 Hobart Regatta.


The regatta was founded by the Governor, Sir John Franklin in  1838, to commemorate the 1642 voyage of  Abel Tasman. The main event was a race between 15  whaling vessels.

Franklin  and his wife  Jane also wanted  to foster cultural life in the convict settlement. For this reason the regatta included a horticultural exhibit.  In 1840 it ended the career of  Mr Tobin, the government house gardener. Mind you, he had only himself to blame, as the Sydney Gazette reported.

Mr Tobin, the Government gardener, who having nothing but ill-temper to show, exhibited that, we are sorry to say, to the worst advantage. Although several plants were perishing for water, and the tent filled with dust, he refused the loan of a watering pot, and men were obliged to sprinkle the water with their hands. We understand His Excellency has very properly marked his sense of the impropriety of Mr Tobin’s conduct by dismissing him from his office.  (Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, Dec. 17 1840). It may well have been Jane Franklin who pushed for the sacking, as she had a lot of influence over her husband.

The Regatta became an established and much loved  event. Everything appeared to go pretty well until, as so often happens, a clique of ‘good ole boys’  who made up the Regatta Association was challenged at a public meeting in  September 1889.  Those attending (500 no less!) felt that the event was no longer  being conducted properly.  A Public Regatta Committee was formed, which it was hoped would work with the old Association.  An indication that this would be problematic came in a letter to the editor of The Mercury in October, after the Association held its annual meeting

Fortunately the two bodies did  eventually  agree to co-operate  and the trouble  settled down.

The shake-up spurred one resident to call for stronger control over the availability of alcohol;

On last Regatta night a large body of police were kept late on the ground, in consequence of the fighting, drunkenness, and riotous behaviour of a number of persons.’ signed PRACTICAL  (Tasmanian News, Oct. 28 1889)

Of course PRACTICAL was shouted down by those believing that a bloke should to be able to have a drink, so nothing really changed.

Royal status was bestowed on the event in 1934, by King George V.

The regatta was held throughout the first and second world wars, except for 1942. By then it was considered that too many rowers and sailors were serving overseas to hold competitive races. In 1940 Mayor Soundy had commented, ‘While the defense of the Empire was a matter that affected everyone, people should not allow the war to get on their nerves.‘ Profits from  wartime  regattas were donated to patriotic causes.

Queen Elizabeth attended the regatta in 1963. What a pity it hadn’t been the follwoing year, as she might have handed my Rob his trophy.  😎

One rare  occasion when the regatta was cancelled was 1967, the year of the terrible Tasmanian bushfires.

For current information on what is now a three day event, CLICK HERE.







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