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49er worlds

David's Desk - an update from the CEO

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Last week's Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships provided an exciting finish to what has been a busy and rewarding year.

There's so much going on in our sport right now and so much to look forward to but we couldn't survive in such a tough environment without the support of the countless people and organisations who play a part in making it all happen.

That includes the likes of Oceanbridge and Maersk, who ship a lot of the sailor's equipment around for not only members of the NZL Sailing Team but also youth teams, and also Zhik who kit our sailors out in top-quality gear.

It's really pleasing to see the number of clubs who have their insurance with Aon, who are great supporters of Yachting New Zealand and who help us run the Aon clinics around the country. There are a couple coming up before Christmas, with one in Auckland and another in Wellington, and it's good to see the talent and depth coming through in our sport.

One thing we released this year was the Women and Girls in Sailing Strategy and you'll be hearing more about that in the New Year as we look to advance equal opportunities in sailing. We're really thankful to people like Ross Pratt at Railblaza who have thrown their support behind what we are trying to do.

A connection with our clubs is critical to what we do and this is no better exemplified by the work done by our regional support officers, who make an amazing difference to club capability.

We couldn't do it without the support of NZCT, who have, along with the likes of the Lion Foundation, Lotteries Commission and Southern Trust, also assisted with the club rebuilds of a handful of clubs around the country like the Worser Bay Boating Club, Queen Charlotte Yacht Club, Pleasant Point Yacht Club and the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. Those clubs now have, or will soon have, some amazing facilities.

We presently have a vacancy for a regional support officer in the northern region, with Raynor Haagh stepping up to become our national sport development director and replaces Andrew Clouston who has joined Maritime New Zealand after 13 years with Yachting New Zealand. 

I would like to give a big thank you to Andrew who made a wonderful contribution over that time. I know Raynor will also be a fantastic success in her new role.

We have a really good team at Yachting New Zealand right now and will make some more additions next year as we take care of all of the areas of our business.

There's no doubt having such a capable board, led by Greg Knowles, makes a massive difference and I thank them for their time and commitment. We will have a couple of vacancies on our board later next year so will let you know about that at the right time.

The Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! season is in full swing and we take great pleasure in introducing sailing to thousands of children who might not necessarily have the chance. Last season a record 4000 children took part in the programme and that's something we couldn't do without the generous support of Volvo.

We have started digitising our race management, coach education and learn to sail programmes and look forward to welcoming the boat and beachwise platforms over the next 18 months. 

Next year will be a big one for Yachting New Zealand, particularly for the high performance team so well led by Ian Stewart, and we look forward to kicking 2020 off with the sponsor's day at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron supported by Lawson's Dry Hills.

We had a fantastic evening last month at the Volvo Yachting Performance Awards when we recognised excellence at all levels of our sport. It has been another successful year in sailing, with some terrific results and performances at home and overseas, and this was capped off by last week's Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships at the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre.

It was a wonderful event, and many sailors and coaches have said it was one of the best regattas they have been involved in. That's a credit to event director Peter Dawson and others like Jude Eades and Raynor Haagh, and the sailing was also spectacular.

It was great that it was delivered to so many people who might not have otherwise seen it through the excellent coverage of Sky Sport and the Sideline app. 

What was also brilliant to see was the environmental work done by the green team and they were rewarded by being awarded platinum status by Sailors for the Sea, one of only five regattas to achieve that status this year.

New Zealand once again proved its ability to host major events and we look forward to others coming this way in the future.

I'm really excited about what lies ahead but, as the year winds down, I really hope everyone gets some time to relax and spend time with family and friends. I would really like to wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year.

  • Pic: David Abercrombie addresses many of the individuals who played a bit part behind the scenes at the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships. Photo: Sailing Energy.