To mark the start of the 2014 sailing season here in Fiji, spectators were treated to a sun drenched Sail Past of the Royal Suva Yacht Club on Saturday morning.
The tradition is believed to have originated in ol’ Blighty around 200 years ago at the Royal Yacht Squadron in the English seaport town of Cowes.
Modern sail pasts are a continuation of the Naval practice of a ‘fleet review’, where ships from a particular navy were gathered and observed by the reigning monarch or his or her representative; a practice which reportedly dated back to the 15th century.
The annual tradition here in Fiji began when the club was established 82 years ago. The sail past the Royal Suva Yacht Club saw club members sail out into the Harbour with juniors leading in their lasers followed by the hobies, B-Class vessels and then powerboats.
Protocol usually demands that a flagship be anchored with the Admiral on the quarterdeck to receive and return the salute. Vessels sail past, dipping their colours in salute, with their captain saluting and the ship’s company standing at attention.
The tradition of the Royal Suva Yacht Club is similar, except that the Commodore receives the salute. According to custom, each vessel was blessed to safeguard them against unfavourable seas before sailing past the Commodore, Mr Mark Hirst.
“It has been done from the very beginning. Each boat and present member is blessed,” he said, “It also gives sailors a sense of auspiciousness to the start of the new sailing season.”
Fiji Shores & Marinas wish you all a safe season of sailing the beautiful islands of Fiji!