Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!

Bringing the thrills and spills of sailing to Kiwi kids nationwide 

Not everyone can be an Olympic or world champion but, for many like Jo Aleh, it starts with a basic introduction to the sport to see if they like it.

Aleh is a two-time Olympic medallist but doesn’t come from a sailing background. She asked her parents if she could try the sport after watching Team New Zealand win the 1995 America’s Cup and was hooked from the moment she jumped in a yacht down at her local club.

Now Yachting New Zealand have made it even easier for children to get involved through the Volvo Sailing… Have A Go! programme.

Volvo Sailing… Have A Go! is offered to schools throughout the country, designed to give primary and intermediate school students the opportunity to try sailing in a safe and well managed environment.

The programme has been running for 11 years, having been set up by the Sir Peter Blake Trust with the aim of every Kiwi kid having the opportunity to try sailing. As many as 3600 children aged between 8 and 12 are put through the programme each year.

“The main focus is having fun." Volvo Sailing... Have A Go! co-ordinator Danika Mowlem said. "We teach them the basics, let them sail around, capsize, go swimming and have water fights. It’s a really positive experience about sailing. Ideally, they might think it’s a sport they might want to get into.

“The kids love it, especially capsizing, and 95 percent say they want to sail again. What we tell them is that all Olympic sailors started in an Opti. If they like it and it’s fun, this is where it can take you.”

Sailing...Have a Go! Photo Gallery 

How it works

Yachting New Zealand have three trailers that travel the country, complete with six Optimists, one Weta (trimaran), two Topper Taz and a RIB. They also provide all the gear like wetsuits and lifejackets. Each child needs to be able to swim 50m with a buoyancy aid.

All schools need to do is show up to their local sailing club and go sailing.

Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! is suitable for students in years 4-8. Delivered by a fully qualified and experienced Yachting New Zealand instructor and assistant during school hours, the programme is offered to groups of 12-15 students as a:

Full day session -  one group for a full day experience. This is the most popular option with schools.
Half day session - one group in the morning and another group in the afternoon

The programme consists of a variety of activities and games which focus on three parts of the school curriculum:

  • Physical and personal development
  • Science and the environment
  • Technology

Click here to learn what's required from schools

Weta Trimaran

The Weta trimaran has proved to be very versatile and safe in a variety of conditions. It is fantastic for children who initially are nervous about sailing, building their confidence by going out with an instructor and other children. It adds another fun factor to the day.

Another important aspect of the Weta is its suitability for children (or adults) with a physical disability, and its inclusion now allows the Volvo Sailing…Have a Go! programme to be extended to those children. Our coaches have all completed the inclusive coaching module of the Halberg Disability Sports' No Exceptions Training. This training enables our instructors to be confident, knowledgeable and creative in adapting the programme to suit children with a disability.

Where we came from

The Volvo Sailing...Have a go! programme began in 2006 with one trailer, The Team New Zealand 2000 trust provided the original funding to get the programme started and the Lion Foundation continued to help as the programme evolved from one trailer to two and in 2009, three trailers. In 2013, Volvo Cars New Zealand came on board as the naming rights sponsor in support of youth sailing.

For more information about Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! contact Danika on (09) 361 4028 or email danika@yachtingnz.org.nz