There will be a new look and feel to the sailing at this year's Anchor Aims Games with the O'pen Skiff being contested alongside the Optimist for the first time.
It is the fifth time sailing has been on the programme for an event held annually in Tauranga but first time the O'pen Skiff (formerly O'pen Bic) has featured. As many as 64 years 7-8 Optimist sailors have entered as well as 35 in the O'pen Skiff.
Organisers felt it was important to offer a class of boat more suitable for sailors too big for Optimists or looking for a different challenge. Both classes will be run on the same race course off from the Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club from Sunday to Tuesday with registrations on Saturday.
The Aims Games is a rare chance for sailors to compete for their school and, as well as individuals honours, the Aims Cup is awarded to the top school.
There will be a host of highlights during the regatta on top of the racing.
Doyle Sails and the NZ O'pen Skiff Association will hold Pimp my Opti and Pimp my Skiff sessions to finetune competitors' boats, BLAKE will be on hand on registration day with 30 virtual reality headsets to deliver experiences of underwater marine life to help participants make the link between irresponsible disposal of waste and run-off and clean waters and Yachting New Zealand head youth coach Matt Thomas is available to offer coaching advice on Monday and Tuesday and will also host a talk for parents on Monday after sailing.
The Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club are aiming for a Sailors for the Sea bronze level clean regatta and will have water bottle refilling stations, no single-use plastic bottles for sale, sensible packaging that can be composted or recycled and no single-use plastic packaging for safety boat crew. A green team will attend to educate and support users in making the transition to a clean regatta.
"The Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club team have put in a lot of work again with the aim of hosting another successful and fun event for all sailors," Yachting New Zealand regional support officer Raynor Haagh said. "It will be exciting to see a mix of Optimists and O'pen Skiffs in action on the water in our largest fleet for the Aims Games yet.
"It's great to see the incorporation of the clean regatta alongside the event and I know the sailors and supporters will get alongside the aim of the event to have minimal impact on our environment."
The Aims Games (Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools) has grown from four sports in 2004 and this year will attract 11,500 participants from 368 schools competing in 24 sports.
Sailing in Tauranga in September can be challenging and cold and a range of conditions are forecast for the three days of racing.