While the media might tell us that Scouting is struggling for members, attendance at the Auckland Regional Sea Scout Regatta the week before Easter and at the Napier Cutty Sark Lower North Island Regatta at Easter suggests that Sea Scouting is alive and kicking.
Sea Scouts have traditionally had a close relationship with New Zealand yacht clubs sharing resources to introduce our youth to sailing and support each others yacht racing programmes. Thirty five years ago, Starling and Sunburst youth sailors from the Bluff Yacht Club put Bluff's Te-Ara-O-Kiwa Sea Scouts at the top of Sea Scout sailing. Easter saw the next generation now from the Paremata and Plimmerton boating clubs put Porirua's Ngati Toa Sea Scouts in the top group.
Ninety sailors from five Sea Scout troops attended the Easter regatta, with 8 Cutters and 11 Sunbursts. The Ngati Toa contingent itself included 36 youths all of who sailed in the troops five Cutters and six Sunbursts. Several skippers passed up the OptiNats to attend this regatta.
Napier provided perfect racing conditions with 5-8kn northerly and a slight swell in brilliant sunshine. Racing in both Cutters and Sunbursts was split into two age groups, >15 and <15, with the first two races split over Cutters and Sunbursts, the crews swapping for the final two races.
In the Sunbursts, Ngati Toa's <15 sailors filled the first four places in both races separating from the rest of the fleet but having a great battle between themselves. Amberlee Faint-Rafferty and Hannah Corke won the first race from Josh Cook and Finn Pritchard. In the second race, Cook and Pritchard won from Callum Pritchard and Liam Hawthorne, apparently securing the class regatta win for Ngati Toa.
However, this proved not to be the case with Cook disqualified in the second race for 're-crossing' the finish line. Sadly, it was actually his older brother, Michael, who sailed back through the finish line some 20-30 minutes later after swapping boats for the next age group series of races. Yes, the last finisher in race two was a lone and distant finisher. A hard lesson for all.
Wellington's Brittannia Sea Scout crew secured the class win.
In the >15 Sunburst races, Wellington's Britannia Sea Scouts again took the crown. In race one, Ngati Toa's Harriet Rowland and Rhiannion Evans were first around the last mark closely followed by Michael Cook and Jono Pritchard. A capsize near the line saw Rowland clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, Cook was slowed by traffic, and Britannia's crew pounced for the win. Cook and Pritchard won the second race but Britannia's crew fought hard for a close second securing the overall win.
In the 17' Cutter sailing, the <15 crew of Josh Cook, Amberlee Faint-Rafferty, Hannah Corke and Torrie Scott came from last place off the line to narrowly win over Ngati Toa's Daniel McDowell, Callum Pritchard, Beth Holzer and Bridget Hawthorne. The result was similar in race two, and the >15 Cutter crew of Michael Cook, Oliver Rolfe and William Knowles won both races.
This was a great regatta show-casing the depth of evolving talent in the Wellington area; talent that is set to hone its skills over winter in the RPNYC Youth Academy E6 match racing programme.
May this close relationship between Sea Scouts and yachting continue and prosper.