One of Northland's greatest boating spectacles returns tomorrow with the annual Tall Ships race in the Bay of Islands.
Up to 70 tall and classic sailing ships are expected at the event, which starts off Russell at noon. The course will be set on the day, depending on conditions, but will involve sailing to the outer Bay of Islands then zig-zagging back to Russell via the islands.
Among the ships expected are a couple of square-riggers including the Spirit of New Zealand, the brigantine Breeze from the Maritime Museum in Auckland, and schooners such as Northland's R Tucker Thompson.
Among the stars of the classic boats will be the 1920s American schooner Nina and the Ponsonby Scow from Auckland, expected to put in a determined effort to regain the title it has won several times.
It will be the 38th race organised by the Russell Boating Club.
Co-ordinator Christine Hall said it was as much a celebration of sail as it was a race.
The wide range of craft this year would include Lion New Zealand, a Whitbread round-the-world yacht from the 1980s.
``It's a day for sailors to look at each other's boats and have a get-together afterwards,'' she said.
The best vantage points for those stuck on land are the beaches and headlands around Russell.