Waterwise, although not highly rated in some circles, is the most successful program in New Zealand in pulling young sailors into the sport, at around the age of ten years old.
A typical Waterwise program will consist of six water sessions of two or three hours each, handling up to 20 children and giving them their first taste of sailing, and water sports.
Sadly the program is eschewed by many clubs, rather than embraced. With the sport heading increasingly down the path of being taken up by the sons and daughters of non-sailing families, the need for Waterwise programs is even greater. So far their record has been excellent producing several world champions and Olympic sailors. Two of the world champions came from non-sailing families and were introduced to sailing an clubs through the Waterwise program.
A Waterwise program, is the only way in which large numbers of school age kids can be taken into sailing with some 6,000 per year passing through the 15 programs that have been established in various centres mainly in the North Island and mainly on Auckland's North Shore. The first was launched in 1983 at Lake Pupuke by Princess Diana.
As well as teaching sailing, Waterwise teaches water confidence and safety, helping to reduce New Zealand's appalling downing rate of almost a hundred people per year. Waterwise is a community initiative - more can be seen on www.waterwise.org.nz The program is run by volunteers with a teacher in charge. Waterwise will teach parents how to sail, and how to instruct - and performs a double service of getting volunteers into the sport and trained at a learn to sail level.
Sail-World stopped by a Waterwise session conducted on Auckland's North Shore.
by Richard Gladwell
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10:34 AM Thu 21 Mar 2013GMT
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