An area which hosts some of the best sailing in New Zealand, the Nelson-Marlborough region will be abuzz with regattas and off-shore races over the summer months.
While the area itself is a gorgeous setting for cruising and racing, the events over summer truly reflect how popular the southern waters are.
It all kicks off in Picton with the Lawson’s Dry Hills Regatta, run out of Waikawa Boating Club on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of January, which embodies three days of racing and socialising to welcome in the New Year.
Commodore Ian Michel says people love the balance between competitive sailing and other activities to include the non-sailing family members, such as wine tours.
This year they are expecting around 30 – 42 entries.
“The level and quality of racing is pretty high, we’ve got a reputation for running really good courses. The cruising division has also become really popular,” he says.
The regatta is also used as a launching pad into summer cruising, and Ian says the New Year regatta date has been well received by yachties.
“The Sounds is a great area to cruise. There’s 82 moorings scattered all the way down in the best possible places,” he says.
Next on the yachting agenda is the Wellington to Nelson race, where the spectacular South Island coast line is a welcome site to those competing in the 120 miler.
Run out of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club on January 17, this race is a feeder to the Nelson Regatta, and always attracts a solid fleet.
“Entries aren’t confirmed yet, but we typically expect about 15 – 20 boats,” says RPNYC sailing committee secretary Nick Locke.
“It’s a popular event because it’s got this great balance between competitive racing and socialising,” he adds.
Similar in length to the Auckland to Russell Coastal Classic, the Wellington to Nelson Race is either a fast fun ride or a painful slow battle, and passes some interesting spots on the way.
“But the good thing is you all end up in Nelson where the weather is usually good, and the regatta is a lot of fun with a destination race, beach party – and it’s all pretty laid back,” he says.
With a couple of days to recover, depending on when you arrive, the Nelson Regatta begins on January 19, and is run out of the Tasman Bay Cruising Club.
Approaching its 5th year, this event brings together three yacht clubs in a four-day stretch.
“It brings everyone a bit closer – and it boosts the Wellington to Nelson fleet numbers,” says regatta organiser Kevin Skelton.
Along with racing around the buoys, the event also incorporates a day sail to Golden Bay, where Pohara Boating Club hosts a dinner for sailors before they return back to Nelson.
“Entries are up around the 20 mark – we had 33 last year so we’re expecting the same again,” says Kevin.
He says the sailing conditions are always a common reason for yachties to attend.
“Wellingtonians call it the T-Shirt sailing. We get 15-16 knot sea breezes and also get to go up through the national park – it’s really beautiful. The event gives people a chance to catch up with each other and it’s all pretty relaxed. I think it’s something people really look forward to,” he says.