Well, we’re back into the summer sailing season down here but that doesn’t mean that we’ve taken a hiatus over the winter months.
There is no hibernal rest for the keen yachties with the Winter Series, held on the lower Otago Harbour, continuing right through the slightly cooler months. This winter saw 36 yachts competing for the fresh fish and vegetables that are the staple prizes given out after each race at the Careys Bay Hotel. This year we even had an entrant traveling up from Invercargill for the last couple of weekends with his Elder yacht Reprieve – well done Daniel Blain. And planning is well in hand for the continuation of this great annual series next winter.
Southland Boat Show
Also during the winter months we had the Southland Boat Show taking place in the Southland Stadium at Invercargill. This is a bi-annual show which sees exhibitors from around the country displaying a wide range of craft and accessories.
But in true Southland fashion, this is just what it says it is – a boat show. Not a caravan, campervan, or cycle to be seen for love or money. This show is organised by the Southland Trailer Yacht Squadron and, along with the support of the Southland yacht clubs, the stadium is transformed from being the home of netball’s Southern Steel to a celebration of all that floats.
The yachting contingency was well exhibited with a strong display of junior yachts incorporating the very popular O’pen Bic class, which is making big in-roads in the lower South Island as it is around the rest of the country.
To complement the junior boats, we had a number of senior yachts and trailer yachts including an 8m Dan Leech performance cruiser owned by Peter Henderson and built locally by Bruce Keen from Bruce’s Boat Repairs.
Yachting New Zealand also had a presence at the show with local Yachting New Zealand regional support officer Graeme Wall bringing some junior yachts down from Dunedin along with display paraphernalia.
An opportunity was made during the show for all the yachties to gather and present to long-time stalwart of Southland yachting, Mick Tait, a plaque honouring his recent appointment as patron of the Southland Yachting Association. In recent years, Mick has always been seen as one of the go-to guys who makes sure the boat show runs without a hitch.
This 2017/18 summer season is shaping up to be packed with plenty of opportunites for those who want to get out and participate.
Some of the clubs have already held their opening days with the rest holding theirs either this weekend or the following one.
Port Chalmers Yacht Club kicked off the summer on September 23 in beautiful spring weather, Broad Bay Boating Club followed the next day. Last weekend saw Otago Yacht Club, Vauxhall Yacht Club and Macandrew Bay Boating Club commencing the season on Sunday a day after the first Principal Day Regatta for the season at Broad Bay held in a good stiff north-easterly breeze. Marakura Yacht Club (Te Anau) kicks their season off this weekend with two days of racing.
Of the many highlights on the sailing calendar down here this season, included are: the ever-popular Aviemore Classic, held every Labour Weekend on Lake Aveimore and run by the Timaru Yacht & Power Boat Club. This event celebrates and includes all array of trailer yachts from the oldies but goodies, up to the growing fleet of performance trailer yachts and sportsboats and it embodies the elements of camping around the boat harbour, a very social family-type race on the Saturday or the option of full-on competitive around-the-buoys racing and culminating in the Aviemore Classic on the Sunday which involves a couple of laps of the lake.
The America’s Cup is going to be travelling to the outer regions this month. This will see it visit Oamaru, Wanaka, Queenstown and Te Anau before venturing to Invercargill. From there it will head south to Bluff and be hosted at the Bluff Yacht Club, home of the famous Oyster Regatta. A ticketed dinner in honour of the Cup is being held in Bluff later that evening.
Along with the usual array of regattas, the national O’pen Bic championships are being held on Lake Wakatipu on January 18-20 when more than 100 entries are expected. This follows on from a series of O’pen Bic regattas planned around the country, including the 2017 Otago O’pen Bic Cup held at Ravensbourne Boating Club on December 16-17.
The Bics will race along with all other classes at Lake Wanaka for Wanaka’s New Year Regatta on January 13-14. An exciting opportunity which precedes this regatta is Windshift Wanaka, a three-day junior sailing camp designed to explore the exciting new opportunities brought by winds of change being enjoyed throughout the world of sailing.
The focus of this unique event will be on fun and will allow kids to explore the many sailing pathways open to them.
For more information and registration for this event, visit here.
The Noelex 25 national championships are also being held in the south at the Port Chalmers Yacht Club on February 9-12.
Along with the sailing, some of the clubs are engaged in some major maintenance or rebuild programmes. Ones of note are: the previously-reported rebuild planned at Wanaka for a new clubhouse, a staged rebuild of a new clubhouse at Broad Bay Boating Club and a major re-cladding and exterior work on the Vauxhall Yacht Club’s existing clubhouse.
There is, as usual, no shortage of sailing events down here for members to get out and about and enjoy. I hope to see you all on the water somewhere.