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All sailing and shoreside events scuttled

by 27 Jan 2010Regatta 20110 comments

Updated Friday 28 January 2011 3.17‍ ‍pm

The decision wouldn’t be made until shortly after at 6‍ ‍am.


Funktop Enhancement: Developed by Ted Funk, this particular infrared enhancement highlights Cyclone Wilma’s intense areas of precipitation. image National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Himawari‍ ‍6 weather satellite

On the morning of the Mahurangi Regatta, a ‘cancellation committee’ of three would phone each other and discuss the weather forecast just intoned by a government meteorologist on national radio.

Then, unless a gale or a deluge was imminent, the regatta signs were erected, starting from the highway and at every potential misdirection all to the way then yet-to-be-officially-opened regional park.

With the advent of weather satellites and computer programmes forecasting conditions a week in advance, and better-known Southern Oscillation implications, organisers have a great deal more information on which to base a decision to proceed with the particularly weather-dependent aspects of the regatta: The shoreside events.

While Cyclone Wilma has had the Mahurangi more or less in her sights since last Saturday, a day can easily see a 1000-kilometre difference in such a storm’s location. By cancelling the popular shoreside events 40-odd hours out, the organisers are knowingly risking looking overly cautious.

The decision regarding the after-match function was the easiest. The outlay for the prize-giving dance is more than $6000, without food and drink. If only a couple of hundred sailors braved the rain to enjoy the band, the profit on their purchases wouldn’t come close to averaging the $30 per head needed for the event to break even. The generous underwriting received from CharterLink, by itself, would still leave the organisers dangerously exposed—even if the cyclone’s progress varied marginally.

The long-term regatta thinking is to spread the risk and responsibility for the regatta more equitably, and to better involve city hall. But there will always be years when cyclones or lesser weather events spoil the party. In the past, when regatta organisers have soldiered on regardless of onshore wind and/or rain, the beach events have failed to attract any interest.

Best to accept graciously that outdoor events are at the mercy of the elements, and look forward to the following year.

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