The Royal Akarana Yacht Club have always known they've been perched on prime land and they now have a facility to match.
The club are in the process of moving into their new home at the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, a mutlipurpose facility that will open the summer season by playing host to December's Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships.
Construction of the facility has coincided with a major rejuvenation of Okahu Bay itself, which has seen the creation of a new marina on the western side, removal of close to 100 moored boats from the bay and reseeding of thousands of mussels to improve the water quality.
The bay is becoming a hub for recreational pursuits, from sailing and waka ama to kayaking and swimming. Now, at the centre of it all is the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre, a new home for not only the Royal Akarana Yacht Club and their sailing academy but also Waka Ama NZ, University of Auckland, Ocean Blue Water Sports, Sailability Auckland and the Auckland City SUP Club.
"It’s just an incredible site and it needed an exceptional facility, something to secure access to the water for the next three, four, five generations," Akarana Marine Sports Charitable Trust general manager Andrew Brookland said.
"It’s a marine-based multisport facility and its byline is 'pathways to the sea'. The whole focus on what we are doing here is trying to ensure the next generation of Aucklanders and New Zealanders have access to the water. You talk about the Viaduct and its lovely walkarounds and restaurants, but there’s nowhere to dip your toes and get wet. That’s what we can do. We can get people on and in the water."
It's a vision that the Royal Akarana Yacht Club have talked about since at least 1990 and it accelerated considerably when a resolution was passed at a 2012 special general meeting of the club to work towards new clubrooms. Demolition of the old buildings, which had been there since 1953, started early in 2017.
Stage one, which cost $10.4 million, was signed off as completed in April and two-thirds of stage two will be completed on November 22 when the main function space is opened in time for the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships.
At last count, more than 190 teams had entered the world championships, which are being used by many nations as a selection regatta for next year's Tokyo Olympics.
"It’s certainly challenging and there are a few nerves about how it’s all going to be delivered but we are really excited by it," Brookland said. "It’s going to be a lot of fun. The sailors have all worked hard just to get here so they are going to be very focused on achieving their goals. Our job is to make sure they get the best opportunity to do that. We'll look after them and hopefully they will have some fun along the way.
"We're also aware we need to look after the volunteers because we can’t run these events without them. We want to give them a great experience so they'll come back and help us again."
The Hyundai Marine Sports Centre will also host a handful of other events, including April's waka ama long distance national championships.
The completion of construction, which is planned for June 2020 when the office, administration, training, members and function rooms are finished, won't be the end of development at the complex. Brookland said they also have a vision to create a safe harbour for sailability access to the water and V1 va'a waka ama users complete with a crane and new pontoons.
It's all part of a plan the Royal Akarana Yacht Club hope will see membership increase in excess of 2000.
"We are just getting our toes wet and we have some work still to do but we are well on the way to delivering Royal Akarana Yacht Club's vision of creating pathways to the sea through community access to the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre," Brookland said.
- Photo: Live Sail Die.