Putt Putt Regatta keeps history afloat on the Coast
THE Davistown Putt Putt Regatta and Wooden Boat Festival on Sunday, October 22 is a full day of water-based fun, celebrating these unique little boats and their distinctive sound.
Event secretary-treasurer Neil Mulcahy said while this would be the festival's 19th running as an annual event (having missed 2011), regattas were held in Davistown as far back as the early 1900s, with pride on the line as boat owners and builders vied to prove they had the fastest putt putt or could row the quickest.
The boats themselves are generally 4-6m open timber-built craft, powered by a simple low-speed single or twin cylinder motor which gives them the "putt putt" exhaust sound.
Many of the boats are pre-war construction, dating from the late 1920s-40s.
While most are passed on through family, or simply purchased, Neil became involved in putt putts in a unique way - he bought one with his house!
It dated from the 1930s and Neil admits it was appealing to take the half-sunk, dilapidated little craft and get it working again and competing in the regattas.
These days 40-50 boats regularly line up for the event, with people travelling from Queensland and the ACT to take part, but not so long ago - in 2007 - up to 100 putt putts were entered.
Unfortunately, as owners get older, entries fall, so there's a real need for owners to get their children enthused and for the mantle to be taken up by a new generation of active retirees or younger.
Now run jointly by the Lions Club of Green Point Avoca and Davistown Progress Association, the event's aim is to "promote an active interest in all matters relating to the history, development, building, restoration and preservation of wooden boats".
As well as the Putt Putt Challenge, there is a grand parade of boats from Davistown to Woy Woy and return, a Boy Scout raft race, dragon boats, as well as prizes for best dressed boat and crew.
Neil dressed his boat as the Batmobile last year and got the grandkids involved in the superhero theme, but you can expect to see everything from Star Wars to paddle boat and viking themes.
And on land, there's about 80 different food and general stalls, as well as local music and entertainment.
The event attracts 10-12,000 people to the Davistown foreshore, and boat entries will be taken right up to the day, so you still have time to brush that old boat off and join the fun.