Aon Club of the Month - Mt Maunganui Yacht Club

by Michael Brown

There's a motoring clause, an anchoring clause and a flexible start time and the main prize is decided by pulling a name out of a hat.

The Mt Maunganui Yacht Club have often tried to do things differently and the Legends Regatta, which is touted as an adventure sailing regatta, embodies that outlook. It's why organisers are not too bothered that it clashes with the PIC Coastal Classic over Labour weekend (October 19-22).

"We know we are up against the Coastal Classic and that's always going to be the major yacht race of the weekend," Mt Maunganui Yacht Club patron and Legends organiser Doug Harrison said. "Our big prize is for participation which is a point of difference.

"What we are finding is that guys who have done the Coastal Classic 10-12 times and are a little older are looking for something different. The Legends Regatta is a bit more relaxed and involves a lot more families."

It's an idea spawned from a handful of sailors who found themselves becalmed when 'racing' to Auckland from the Bay of Plenty. They decided a motoring clause would not only assist their passage but also become something that could be used tactically during a race - there are strict limits on how long it can be used and is self-governing on the log sheet. 

Add in flexible starting times (any time after briefing) and anchoring clauses to allow overnight stopping and they knew they were onto something that could have widespread appeal. Boats are required to complete three of the four races to be eligible for the major spot prize.

The first is passage from either Tauranga, Whangamata, Whitianga or Auckland - a boat from Whangarei tried one year but ran out of time - a race around Mercury Island and another, shorter race around Never Fail Rock. The regatta is rounded out by the return journey.

"The handicapper has a bit of a job on their hands because they need to factor in things like wind direction," Harrison said. "It can also get very tactical around when to use the motor and racers also need to pick when the best weather is going to be for their boats to start the racing. These things are really popular."

As many as 48 entries were received one year, although not all competed because of inclement weather, and organisers are hopeful of a good turnout in October.

The Legends Regatta is one of the highlights on the Mt Maunganui Yacht Club calendar but there is always something going on at the club. It's often a by-product of being three clubs in one.

The yacht club is one of three clubs that make up the Mount Ocean Sports Club, or MOSC as its known locally, along with the Mount Maunganui Underwater Club and Mount Maunganui Sport Fishing Club. It's a harmonious relationship that dates back 25 years - the MOSC and yacht club celebrated their 25th anniversary last weekend - and is well governed to ensure one club doesn't overrun the others.

It's also got a seven-day bar, restaurant and function rooms, as well as the original dairy the clubrooms were built around 25 years ago.

"It's unique in New Zealand," My Maunganui Yacht Club member and current MOSC chairman Mark Rundell said. "We don't think there's anything like it with three clubs. The rules have pretty much stayed the same over the course of 25 years because it works."

The yacht club has also remained consistent in that time. Prior to that they were mainly a centreboard and trailer yacht club but in the last quarter-century have been largely a club for keelboat sailors and larger trailer yachts.

"We support the Tauranga club with juniors," Harrison said. "We don't want to set up a junior fleet because Tauranga does such a wonderful job and have the resources to make it work.

"We find the two clubs work really well together. We get members coming back after they've done some dinghy sailing."

It's not hard to see why and the addition of other adventure sailing races on top of the Legends Regatta will only make them more attractive.

20 Aug 2018
20 Aug 2018