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Wakatere Boating Club

Yachting New Zealand turn green and gold

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Yachting New Zealand struck gold with Sailors for the Sea at the recent Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and are now intent on turning that into platinum.

The national sports organisation was awarded gold status under the Sailors for the Sea clean regattas programme at their first attempt at running a clean regatta.

Clean regattas is the world’s leading sustainability certification for all on-the-water, near-the-water, and water-loving events and since the programme’s inception in 2006 more than 2600 events have been awarded clean regatta status. 

There are four levels of certification - platinum, gold, silver and bronze - and you can find out more about it here.

Yachting New Zealand youth and events manager Sam Mackay said it was a good first step and all future Yachting New Zealand regattas would be run as clean regattas.

"It's a good stepping stone to making this a regular thing at our events," Mackay said. "Next time we would like to get platinum and we'd like to bring in some different initiatives, particularly around education and we'd also like to partner with other organisations.

"It seems daunting at first but alot of the criteria is common practice now. My advice to clubs running events is to ensure you have help and plan it early. If you can do that, it's not that hard."

Mackay had the benefit of working alongside Delayne Salthouse, who has made significant changes at the Wakatere Boating Club. The club achieved platinum status for the last RS Feva national championships.

"It was fantastic to work alongside Delayne and learn," Mackay said. "Wakatere have done some amazing things in terms of their water use, waste management and other initiatives, like keep-cups stored at the club for members to use at the local coffee shop.

"It's becoming clearer and clearer that as sailors and boaties in New Zealand we need to be leaders in ocean conservation so we can continue to enjoy the places we like to spend our time racing and recreating."

The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta isn't the only event to be recognised recently and last December's Sir Peter Blake Regatta hosted by the Torbay Sailing Club also achieved gold status and the Ronstan/Mainstay Marine J14 and Sunburst North Island Regatta, also hosted by Torbay, was awarded bronze certification.

This year's CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week, this country's biggest multi-day keelboat regatta, achieved platinum status, building on the gold they achieved last year.

Organisers introduced a number of initiatives including:

  • Recycling and composting stations manned by volunteers from local community group Russell Recyclers
  • Free water bottle refilling stations (saving around 6000 single-use plastic bottles)
  • Going digital, using a specially-developed mobile app to distribute important documents to participants
  • Reducing emissions by holding committee meetings on Zoom and promoting alternatives to car travel, buying locally-produced goods and services
  • Creating reusable event signage
  • Educating participants about 'green boating'
  • Organising a local beach cleanup

Last year the CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week achieved a 75 percent reduction in waste going to landfill, and organisers estimate this year’s figure was even higher, with the additional saving of 1800 sheets of printed paper through the digitisation of sailing instructions alone.

Clubs can find some more good ideas here to help them become more environmentally sustainable and we will also be looking to provide more resources and support soon.