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Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!

Isolation no barrier to Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!

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Five days a week the ferry arrives from Auckland at Great Barrier Island. It's not normally a big deal - it's part of life on the island perched off the top of the Coromandel Peninsula - but today's cargo was something a bunch of school kids were eagerly awaiting.

The Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! trailer arrived at Tryphena at lunchtime and tomorrow will open its back door and invite school children to go sailing. As it turns out, more than half the primary school-age children on the island will participate in the programme over the next couple of days.

That might sound a lot but it's all a matter of perspective. Only 19 students attend Mulberry Grove School (11 will do the have a go day).

"It's going to be a really cool experience," Mulberry Grove School principal Ally Gibbs said. "Not many people go to the trouble of bringing their experiences to the island. As much as they want to, it goes into the too-hard basket.

"For parents and other members of the community, it's also really cool because it means they feel really valued and spurs them on to do more."

Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!
The visit of the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! to Great Barrier Island in 2016 was a big hit.

Many on the island already do plenty. Gibbs is also involved with Sea Education Aotea, who are are members of Yachting New Zealand and who aim to introduce children and young people on the island to all aspects of water craft and water safety through the likes of swimming, kayaking and sailing as well as navigation skills and ecology.

The visit of the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! trailer will take things a step further.

"It will mean the kids can go out there and have a more fulfilling experience and hopefully give them a whole new passion for the programme here that they probably take for granted," Gibbs said. "It will take things to a whole new level and introduce them to another perspective. It might even give them the experience of what it's like to sail in a regatta because they can't get that here."

Most will want to have a go on the Weta trimaran, one of the three types of boats in the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! trailer. It was the most popular boat when the trailer last visited in 2016.

The Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme aims to give primary and intermediate school students the opportunity to try sailing in a safe and well-managed environment. It has three instructors who travel to schools throughout the country, from Paihia to Pohara and Rotorua to Riverton. 

Last year the trailer visited Stewart Island for the first time ever and this week's journey to Great Barrier Island is the second.

Volvo Sailing... Have a Go!

It will be Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! northern region instructor Justin Hurst's first visit to the island for 25 years and he often found trips to more remote areas the most rewarding.

"It's going to be a really cool adventure," he said. "I notice that the further you get away from the towns, the more adventurous the kids are and the more they challenge themselves.

"I have also all-but organised to drive the 8m trailer to Port Fitzroy. It normally takes over an hour to drive the 40km so that's going to be an adventure in itself."

Children from all three primary schools on Great Barrier Island will participate in the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme over the next couple of days and it's something that's going to make an impact, even on some of the adults.

"I'm so passionate about this," Gibbs said. "Seeing the children out there makes my heart sing."

  • See here for more on the Volvo Sailing... Have a Go! programme, including information on how you can register your interest in the trailer visiting your school.