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A century of change at Takapuna Boating Club

by Yachting New Zealand 5 Feb 2020 00:50 PST
Takapuna Boating Club 1940s © Takapuna Boating Club

It didn't take long after the club's creation for the Takapuna Boating Club to delve into a variety of activities and it's a tradition that has continued through to today.

Aside from yachting, the club was used as a venue for dances, boxing, library, school events, ladies mornings and roller skating in the early days.

These days they have a diverse membership, with dinghy, kite and windsurfing sailors, surfski, SUP and waka ama paddlers, triathlon and ocean swimming members as well as social members and that evolution will be celebrated at the Takapuna Boating Club's centenary over Waitangi weekend.

Ray Welson has witnessed a lot of change in his 62-year association with the club and can even trace a link right back to the start, with the first meeting held at his great-grandfather's house in 1920.

The Takapuna Boating Club was originally established in Bayswater in 1914 after a race was run to settle an argument. The popularity of this contest prompted another race, with a £2 prize up for grabs, and it was then suggested a club be formed.

It was originally known as the Bayswater Boating Club but this lapsed during World War I. Interest in reforming the club led to the establishment of the Takapuna Boating Club on February 6, 1920.

A boat harbour was set up at Bayswater where the marina now sits, with sailing in Shoal Bay, and clubrooms completed in 1925 after the purchase and relocation of an Irelands Tannery building from Panmure. As much as 40,000 feet of timber was barged across the harbour and construction took five months (pictured above).

The clubrooms, which are now historically listed, naturally became a focal point of the community as well as a hub for centreboard sailing. The Takapuna Boating Club created the Cornwall Cup and were involved in forming the Z Class and Finn Class in New Zealand.

But the Bayswater site didn't really suit a sailing club, especially due to increased siltation and prevalence of boats mooring in Shoal Bay, and in 1969 racing was moved to the sailing waters off Takapuna Beach.

This provided greater sailing area unrestricted by the tide but it wasn't until 1990 that clubrooms were set up in Takapuna on Hurstmere Road before another shift to the present location on The Strand in 2005.

Takapuna Boating Club

The current premises are used for a variety of events.

Multiple world championships have been hosted by the Takapuna Boating Club, including the International 14 Class (2005), Laser Radial and RSX (2008), Splash (2010), Junior 470 (2012), A Class Catamaran (2014) Finn (2015) and Tornado (2008, 2019) classes.

"It became the elite Olympic class sailing area," said Welson, who was commodore from 2007-09. "We held about eight or nine international regattas which was absolutely massive for the club as well as yachting in New Zealand. But it became extremely difficult to hold large international regattas off the beach because of the limited street parking and challenges finding room for 160-200 boats.

"That's one of the reasons we've had to evolve, move with the times. We are trying to increase the membership base and that's naturally coming with the likes of the stand up paddlers, kayakers and Waka ama and also social members."

Sailing is still a big part of the club, with regular racing and coaching, and it's likely a number of tall tales will resurface during the centenary celebrations.

Plenty of sailing luminaries like Ralph and Clive Roberts, Sir Peter Blake, Tom Ashley, Geoff Smale, Helmer Pedersen and Peter Lester have been active members of the club and some will be among the 150-200 people who will converge on Takapuna for the centenary.

A range of activities from foiling sprint races and a surfski race to an introduction to paddling and more traditional centreboard regatta will be held and all past and present members are invited to join the festivities.

Change is about the only constant at the Takapuna Boating Club so it's anyone's guess to know what the club will look like in another hundred years.
Takapuna Boating Club Centenary Schedule of Events

Thursday 6th February - Centenary Celebrations
2pm: Foiling sprint races - first event of Thursday Summer Sprint Series, open to all foiling classes
3pm: Surfski race, starting and finishing at Takapuna Beach.
From 4pm: all club members and their families are invited to Takapuna Boating Club to celebrate 100 years of the club. This will include some formalities acknowledging the occasion, as well a prize-giving for the day's racing.

5.30pm: Meal served - please RSVP if you are coming for catering purposes

Friday 7th February
From 4pm: Happy Hour- finger food provided. Meals available. Jackpot draw at 6.30pm

Saturday 8th February- Club Open day & TBC Centenary Regatta
10am-noon: 'Try Paddling' for kids and adults at Takapuna Boating Club
11am: TBC Centenary Regatta all senior classes welcome
4pm: Happy Hour. Finger food provided

Sunday 9th February - TBC Centenary Regatta & Prizegiving
11am: TBC Centenary Regatta all senior classes welcome
Followed by BBQ and prize-giving at the club.

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