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Mark Orams to headline conference speakers

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Renowned sailor, respected scholar and author and environmental champion Mark Orams will headline Yachting New Zealand’s list of speakers at the Club Conference in Auckland later this month.

Orams, known as the country’s “sailing professor”, will canvas a range of topics relevant to yacht clubs in 2023 – including environmental challenges and diversity.

As a sailor, Orams has won over a dozen national and world titles, and was a member of Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup defences in 2000 and 2003. He also sailed on the Steinlager 2 in the victorious 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race with great friend Sir Peter Blake.

Orams later wrote the motivational biography Blake: Leader - leadership lessons from a great New Zealander – one of several books he has authored - and was the inaugural executive director of the Sir Peter Blake Trust from 2004 to 2007.

A Professor of Sport and Recreation at the Auckland University of Technology, and the university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Orams is also a strong advocate for ocean conservation.

He co-founded the International Coastal and Marine Tourism Society and the Coastal-Marine Research Group and served on the Sustainability Commission for World Sailing.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark as a speaker at this year’s conference and we know attendees will benefit greatly from his knowledge of and passion for some of the biggest challenges facing our clubs and club leaders today," said Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie. 

“Already this year we have seen the devastating impacts of climate change on several of our member clubs, and we continue to strive to increase gender and ethnic diversity in our yachting community."

Mark Orams is the Auckland University of Technology's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research. Photo / AUT

Mark Orams is the Auckland University of Technology's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research. Photo / AUT

The Club Conference, previously called the Commodores Conference, will return to its in-person format for the first time since 2018 after several years of disruptions due to Covid-19 and will take place at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club on Saturday, May 27.

It is free to yacht club commodores from across New Zealand while younger club members performing leadership roles at clubs are also encouraged to attend.

Other guest speakers will talk on areas including gaming and grant funding, Societies Act changes, safeguarding, maritime safety, advocating for recreational boating, and Yachting New Zealand’s RŪNĀ schools programme.

Abercrombie said this year’s event will also offer club delegates an opportunity to ask Yachting New Zealand board and leadership team members questions as part of a facilitated Q&A session.

"The conference is an excellent opportunity to connect with other leaders, share knowledge and information, plan, and network. Feedback from previous conferences has been around the value of networking and being able to share ideas and experiences with the others in the room and this year we will allow ample time for sharing and networking,” Abercrombie said.

There are still places available for the 2023 Club Conference, but registration closes at 5pm on Friday (5 May).

Clubs wishing to have a young leader attend the conference must apply to do so and state what role the person takes in the club and how the club is supporting them. This person may also receive a contribution towards travel and accommodation.

For more information on the conference, contact Angela Jordan on 09 361 4020 or