The joy of helping kids discover sailing

by Yachting New Zealand

Seeing kids fall in love with sailing every day is what Paul Moriarty loves most about his job.

Along with travelling the country, visiting sailing venues, and being on the water. 

The sailing coach and boat builder has just capped off his third season as a Volvo Sailing…Have a Go! instructor - a season that has seen the unique Yachting New Zealand program soar to new heights.

Participation levels for the 2013/2014 season were up by 83 sailors with a total of 3586 kids taking part.

It’s people like Paul who inject energy and that ‘can-do’ attitude who keep these figures rising.

He reckons the programme is a great concept with a natural formula for success.

“I think the program is very effective in boosting yachting’s profile as a sport in New Zealand, especially in the smaller towns. I think the program will pay off in the future as the have-a-go kids will generally have a happy memory of sailing while growing up, and will be more likely to sign up with a yacht club later in life,” he says.

Paul has completed each season in a different region and says it’s the new experiences that have kept him enthused.

“Seeing some magic sailing spots in the South Island this season has been awesome. And meeting some passionate club members, and some really cool, tough, give-anything-a-go south island kids,” he says.

With the season wrapped up, Paul’s taken a one-way ticket to Europe on a new adventure.

“I’m having a small break from sailing – being a tourist and working at an old English pub,” he says.

Although there are no plans to be back for next season’s Volvo Sailing… Have a Go!, he plans to keep his hand in the water sports role and look to instruct over the next summer in Europe.

Other instructors who covered the Northern and Central regions this season were Reuben Corbett and Jordan Stock.

Towing the hefty trailer into some of the more remote parts of the country anywhere from Taipa to Bluff is no easy task, and program coordinator Stuart Thomas says that’s often why they generate such interest.

By making the effort to “go to them”, equipment and all, and make a fun day of it – that’s what kids remember.

Having just finished off his own report from the season he’s happy with the results.

“When Sailing… Have a Go! was launched in 2006 we had 500 children from 20 schools in the north.

It’s grown every year and especially in the past three years – we are getting more yacht clubs taking part, and sponsorship on board which is a huge help,” he says.

A sponsorship deal with Volvo has seen three Volvo XC90 vehicles being the new wheels for the three instructors.

“It’s a great benefit to the program and reduces the running costs overall as well,” says Stu.

Many yacht clubs have seen a membership boost from returning students with their families.

 Stu says these clubs often show that extra bit of initiative during Volvo Sailing…Have a Go! days.

“The clubs that benefit the most in terms of returning sailors are those that provide information on the day, and organize opportunities for students to come back with their parents,” he says.

Profile building events that program members have participated in this season included a learn-to-sail program at Hamilton Yacht Club, inclusion into Sport Southland’s summer school holiday program in Te Anau and Riverton, the Volvo National Sailing and Boating Day at Howick, Gisborne, and Wakatipu, and the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show.

Here’s hoping for another successful season come October!


  • A total of 3586 took part in the Sailing... Have  A Go! programme during term 4 2013 and term 1 2014 an increase of 83% on the previous season.
  • 2138 or 59.6% of students expressed an interest in learning to Sail.  The contact details of these children have been handed on to their local club.
  • 2956 Evaluation forms were collected from students (82%)
  • The programme introduced 1234 (41.8%) students to Sailing for the first time.


10 Jun 2014
11 Jun 2014