By Michael Brown, Communications Manager, Yachting New Zealand
This time of year is always an exciting one for us at Yachting New Zealand. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, people of all ages pull out the lifejacket and pull off the boat covers to get ready for the new summer sailing season.
For some, it’s something they’ve done every year for more summers than they care to remember but, for others, it might be one of their first times. They are at the start of their journey and the destination is unknown.
We have a motto at Yachting New Zealand that sailing is a sport for life. It’s true. Many individuals go for their first sail soon after they are born and we have others in their eighties and nineties still enjoying the freedom of getting out on the water. A positive first sailing experience can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment. It can also lead to a career in the sport or wider marine industry.
Yachting New Zealand is the national body for yachting and boating in this country, which means we look after everything from grassroots through to high performance sailing. We take this role very seriously because the programmes that clubs run, and the help we can give them to operate effectively, has a significant impact on what happens at the top end of the sport.
We have a high performance team at Yachting New Zealand, who oversee everything from our Aon youth sailing programmes and talent identification through to support for our NZL Sailing Team and those who compete at the Olympic Games. New Zealand has a proud tradition of success at the Olympics, with the 23 medals collected since the first in 1956 making us the third-most successful sport in this country behind rowing and athletics.
But sailing has so many more components to it than the Olympic Games. There’s the America’s Cup and SailGP, ocean racing, keelboat racing and thousands enjoy nothing more than cruising around our beautiful coastlines. We’ve also seen lately a huge explosion in foiling, whether it’s windfoiling (windsurfing on foils) or kitefoiling (kiting on foils) or the latest craze, wingfoiling (foiling while holding a wing). There’s something for everyone.
For anyone wanting to give sailing a try, whatever your age and whatever aspect of if that appeals, there are 108 yachting and boating clubs dotted around the country affiliated to Yachting New Zealand ready to guide your journey. Thousands will give it a go for the first time this summer and some of those could be our Olympians or America’s Cup sailors of the future, or they could be the next boat builders, designers or sailmakers.
Yachting New Zealand is lucky to have some wonderful partners and sponsors alongside us for the ride, including Lawson’s Dry Hills. They joined our team five years ago as our official wine partner and it’s been a perfect match. We know this time of year is also an important one for the winemakers, as the new buds start emerging on the vines and give some idea of what sort of vintage is in store. They chase medals and mastery, just like us, but also don’t lose sight of where it all begins. Bring on the summer.