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Australians are known for not taking themselves too seriously, and this fun-loving attitude is reflected in our weird and wonderful sporting events like cane toad racing and wife carrying. There’s no shortage of whacky events on the water either. Here are five of the most unusual nautical events.
Henley On Todd Regatta – Alice Springs
An iconic Australian event, the Henley On Todd Regatta was founded back in 1962 and is held on Alice Springs’ Todd River. However, the Todd River is usually nothing more than a dry sandy river bed, so participants are required to carry their boats.
Different ‘classes’ that participate in the regatta include the six-person ‘Mini Yachts’, 10-person ‘Maxi Yachts’, ‘Rowing 4’s’ and ‘Kayaks’. There is also a ‘battle of the boats’ with four-wheel drives converted to ships and decked out with water cannons, and a parade of homemade boats down the nearby Todd Mall.
Every August, thousands of spectators gather of watch the event - although the 1993 regatta was cancelled because there was water in the river.
Beer Can Regatta – Darwin
It is reported that half the local population attended the first Beer Can Regatta and with the support of local clubs, media and businesses the event remains popular. As the name suggests, the Beer Can Regatta requires entrants to race boats made from beer cans in Darwin’s crocodile-inhabited waters.
The regatta is governed by 10 ‘can-mandments’ which outline helpful rules such as ‘the craft shall float by cans alone’ and ‘thou shalt not drown’.
Entrants whose boats sadly don’t float also have the chance to race (carry) their boats down the beach. And landlubbers can also participate in tug-of-war and thong-throwing events.
Tuna Toss World Championships – Port Lincoln
Held over the Australia Day long weekend, Port Lincoln’s Tunarama Festival is one for seafood lovers. It features the Tuna Toss World Championships, Salmon Tossing, a prawn peeling competition, along with boat building, sand sculpting, swimming and other competitions.
The seriousness of the Tuna Tossing event shouldn’t be underestimated, with cash prizes on offer for those who throw the 10kg fish the furthest.
Competitors are cheered on by thousands of festival visitors, and even Prime Minister attended the 2017 event.
Dog Race – Scotland Island
Boaties who have visited Pittwater will have enviously admired the houses on Scotland Island. And every Christmas Eve, the island’s residents gather for the annual dog race. Local and visiting dogs paddle the 600m stretch of water between Scotland Island and the mainland with their owners paddling or motoring beside them.
The race allegedly began back in 1974 with beer and dog food given to the winner, and these days the race draws a crowd of thousands to cheer on the ferry competitors.
Tug and Yacht Ballet – Sydney
Finally, there is nothing more unconventional than mixing boats and ballet but that’s exactly what happens during the annual Australia Day celebrations on Sydney Harbour. A fleet of yachts and tugs, accompanied helicopters and jet boats, ‘dance’ up the harbour in carefully ‘choreographed’ formation.
Do you know of any other unconventional boating events? I'd love to hear about them?