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Sailing quidditch

Waikato coach enchanted by sailing quidditch

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There are chasers and beaters and even a golden snitch and, just like the version in the Harry Potter books, is a game that is catching on.

Waikato Thames Yachting Association coach Kirsten Moratz invented sailing quidditch about three years ago as a game for youngsters to play and she now plans to hold a quidditch tournament at Lake Ngaroto in November.

"It started when I got tired of playing ball tag with the kids so I invented this game that I called sailing soccer," said Moratz, who often plays the role of Madam Hooch and referees. "I amped that up and came up with sailing quidditich.

"It's gone fantastically well. We had a small tournament in June and a few kids said it was the most fun they had ever had on the water, and some of these kids had been to national and world championships. They all had the biggest smiles on their faces."

Moratz came up with a variation of the rules based on the game usually played by wizards on broomsticks. The main ones are:

  • At least three players in each team
  • Five points accrued each time players pass the quaffle (ball) to a teammate at least one boat length away. These players are called the chasers
  • One player on each team has a water gun and they are called the beaters. Anyone squirted is required to complete a 360-degree turn
  • The coach has a buoy, or golden snitch, attached to the back of the boat which is deployed for short periods of time. Anyone who catches up with it wins 10 points for their team
  • The game ends after a set amount of time (eg 30 minutes) or one team accumulates a certain number of points

Moratz typically plays the game in O'pen Skiffs, mostly because it's easier to play in single-handed boats, they cater for children of any size and the fact they are plastic and pretty much "indestructable", which is important given boat-to-boat contact is common.

"The good thing is that anyone of any size and ability can play because it's not a game of speed but teamwork and communication," Moratz said. "This is a way kids can learn but have fun at the same time. It's really important to have different options for kids who don't want to get into racing but enjoy sailing."

Yachting New Zealand coach development manager Peter Soosalu applauded Moratz for coming up with a different concept to keep sailing interesting and to cater to sailors of different abilities and interests.

“Sailing soccer and quidditch are great games we have discussed before and what she’s done here to get kids on the water enjoying the sport is great," he said. "I love seeing coaches with new creative ways to get people on the water enjoying the sport, and it shows that racing is not the only pathway you need to go down.”

The quidditch 'tournament' will involve one day's competition on Lake Ngaroto on November 21 followed by another day mountain biking in Porongia. Free camping is available at the Ngaroto Sailing Club and anyone interested in attending should sign up here.