New Zealand's National Sailing Day - be in it!

Howick Sailing Club in action
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New Zealand yacht clubs and their sailors are getting ready - or some are - for the first ever National Sailing and Boating Day. On 16th February, there will be a grand push to entice more people onto the water - whether you've any experience or not in the sailing world.

Sponsored by Volvo, large and small yacht clubs are getting involved, encouraging everyone within range to check out their local yacht club. You can be involved by encouraging others to take up the challenge and give sailing a try.

For instance, there's the Motueka Yacht & Cruising Club, and there's no-one keener than member Ross Loveridge: 'We often think, 'Wow! We're having so much fun doing this - why aren't other people?' he told Yahoo Sport.

The club is situated on the doorstep to Abel Tasman National Park, and Ross says the setting for cruising is among the best - yet many locals haven’t experienced it.

'We’ve fun a few things over the years to get people involved and enjoying it too, but without a lot of uptake. With the impetus of Yachting New Zealand behind it, maybe we’ll drive the idea home a bit more,' he says.

He says the club has a very social atmosphere, with less emphasis on competitive sailing.

'We’re a small club, and our sailing times are dictated by the tides. But it’s a great club, and it would be great if more people knew about what we did,' he says.

Meanwhile, further North, Howick Sailing Club has been through a quiet patch in terms of members, and hope to use the day to draw more people through their doors.

'It’s little steps at the moment - but having these kinds of days are really important. We’re a small club with limited personnel, and we’re just trying to make the day a fun event,' says Sheryl Lane of Howick Sailing Club.

She says the more support for open days like this, the better.

'We’ve been much bigger in previous years, but it’s just been a bit of a quiet time. The concept of boat ownership and maintenance has changed, and we have to change with it.,' she says.

She says the main thing is letting people find out for themselves if they want to be a part of it.

At Evans Bay Yacht and Motor Club in Wellington, plans are underway to provide the general public with every opportunity to find something in their club that suits them.

Sailing coordinator Steve Hold says Evans Bay is the only yacht club in Wellington to provide either a dinghy, trailer sailor, or keel boat division.

'This enables the public to pick a division that suits their aspiration' he says.

He says the introduction of this event to Yachting New Zealand’s calendar is a big step forward.

'It will ensure members of the public, no matter their situation, will get a chance to sail on a yacht. This may be the catalyst to start their sailing journey via local yacht clubs,' he says.

By having information on courses available, and members on hand to create a welcoming atmosphere, Steve hopes the public will also make the most of the day.

Opportunities for non-sailors are also important to promote, as he says there are always administration or support roles needed.

The key is now to keep spreading the word, and for people to find out what their local yacht clubs are doing for the day.

With the knowledge that curious sailing folk across the country are doing the same, hopefully the unique sport and lifestyle will be that much more accessible.

So if you know fellow New Zealanders who haven't sailed, but might enjoy it, encourage them to get along to their local yacht club on February 16.
http://www.sail-world.com/119120