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Daves Desk - An update from the CEO

Issue date

There’s been plenty of movement within Yachting New Zealand in recent months, and as we look at clubs and organisations around us it seems we’re not alone. Change signals progress however, and as we’re approaching the closure of 2022 it’s a poignant time to introduce the new faces and shed some insight into what’s been happening. 

We’ve recently welcomed two new board members: Jenna Hansen, (2012 Olympian), and Nik Burfoot (Ex World Laser Champion). We also bid farewell and thanks to Jenny De Lisle after seven years on the board. 

In the Yachting New Zealand office we’ve welcomed Mel Hurst into the office administration, handicapping, boat registration and national events role.    

Natalia Groom is another new face and heads the RŪNĀ programme which Yachting New Zealand is rolling out to schools and already receiving high praise amongst teachers and students who have experienced it. We’re really proud of the three modules developed to bring sailing into schools, and the wider learning and experiences it affords our communities. This year we have launched Kōrinorino – In Our Ancestors Wake, and relaunched Kōkōkaha – Powered by Wind. The modules are designed to offer in-classroom learning experiences, supported by a sailing experience at a local sailing club. As a result, this programme is connecting clubs and communities, and fostering relationships that will hopefully result in more interest and memberships for clubs going foward. Over 50 schools have signed up over the last two weeks alone, and we’re excited to see what 2023 will bring as we launch the third and final module Moanamana – Building NZL’s Blue Belt.    

Michael Brown has moved on to TVNZ and we will welcome Eduan Roos into the Communications Manager role in January. Eduan comes from NZME with a rich sporting and communications background, and we are very much looking forward to having his expertise onboard.    

November was a key month for women in sport across New Zealand. Not only was there the success of the Black Ferns, but the Women’s World Match Racing Championships were hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and the IWG Women & Sport World Conference was held in Auckland, attended by Yachting New Zealand Women’s Sailing Manager Jenny Armstrong and Raynor Haagh our National Sport Development Director. Celia Willison and her Edge Match Racing team came a close second to Pauline Courtois in the Match Racing World Championships, and Meghan Thompsons 2.0 Racing team came 3rd, putting two Kiwi teams on the podium behind the World #1 from France. It’s been exciting to see these international events return to our shores and we hope to see many more pop up around the country in 2023.   

There’s a new General Manager at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Sarah Wilburn. It’s been interesting hearing about some of the challenges a big club faces, and the strategies in place to address them and wish Sarah all the very best in her new role and look forward to working alongside her and the new Squadron team.     

The Yachting New Zealand AON Excellence Awards was a true showcase of our sport. Congratulations to all the volunteers, awardees, and those nominated. We look forward to following their futures with great interest. Thank you also to Belinda, Sion, and Tim at Lawsons Dry Hills for their ongoing support of Yachting New Zealand and we trust everyone enjoyed the supplied beverages during the awards evening and of course to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for once again helping Yachting New Zealand host an amazing event.  

As well as those already mentioned, we are fortunate to have the backing of a great group of sponsors. A special thanks must go to Geoff Blampied and the AON team, who continue to offer the most complete and cost-effective insurance options to Yachting New Zealand, member clubs and sailors. In addition to the Excellence Awards, our recent AON training clinic at the Napier Sailing Club was another example of the way we are able to provide fantastic opportunities for our sailors around the country. 

Our Olympic team receives significant backing from B&G, and we are proud to have VMG as our new clothing partner bringing a fabulous range of shore and technical gear to Yachting New Zealand. Our community and high-performance programme wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and partners and special mention must go to HPSNZ, and Sport NZ.    

Our friends Bill Speedy and Alistair Wishart from Oceanbridge have been instrumental in consolidating our logistics and shipping needs, while support from Oceanbridge and the NZL Sailing Foundation has enabled us to regularly send a strong team to the annual Youth Sailing World Championships.  This is a remarkable opportunity for our young sailors in what is becoming an increasingly difficult financial environment, so I must also thank the parents who put so much support in and around their children.      

Railblaza, even under new ownership has provided huge support and I’d like to thank Ross Pratt for his selfless support over the past 5 years.  

NZCT have shown loyal support to our regional development programme (RDMs) which has enabled us to maintain our invaluable support to member clubs. Lion Foundation has been a cornerstone supporter of the Volvo Sailing Have a Go! programme for over 15 years and as we morph this programme into RŪNĀ, we look forward to strengthening that relationship along with the support of Sport New Zealand and our clubs.      

This wonderful group of loyal and passionate sponsors enable Yachting New Zealand to continue offering our programmes across the country. Please encourage your clubs and members to support these companies if they are able to do so.       

We are pleased to see the Clean Club programme gaining momentum with more than 20 New Zealand clubs and 5-6 Australian clubs picking up the challenge. This is a world first initiative and one we hope will gain momentum and make a difference to our environment for generations to come.  

It’s been fantastic working with Covington Group around a new home for Yachting New Zealand and our sport, and we look forward to making an exciting announcement around this in the new year.  

Given the rate that Christmas is approaching it seems fitting to congratulate Glenn Ashby and the ETNZ team for their impressive new land speed sailing record. 222.4km/h with 22 knots of windspeed on Lake Gairdner in South Australia is simply astounding.   

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the board and Yachting New Zealand staff for all their hard work over the last year and wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas.     

All the very best for a prosperous New Year, and I will see you in 2023.