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Regatta director a hard man to follow

by 1 Mar 2010Regatta 20110 comments

Regatta Brainstorming 3 March 2010
Venue Mahurangi West Hall
Time 7.30–9pm

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Frostbites off Saddle Island

A Light Sprinkling: Once a young and vibrant part of the Mahurangi Regatta, centreboard yachts have dwindled to a few traditional-styled craft and this sprinkling of Frostbites, off Saddle Island. photographer Richard Gladwell

He was always going to be a hard man to replace.

But after 22 years as regatta director, Michael Gordon could be excused for not wishing to serve in the role in his seventieth year.

Besides, this former chief engineer of the Union Steam Ship Company’s trans-Tasman roll-on-roll-off ships has a new interest: Steaming up the Puke, for the region’s maritime museum.

The work and responsibility of hosting the event burgeoned with the revival of the Mahurangi Regatta Prize-Giving and Dance, with the regatta ball in 2004. And following this year’s regatta some of the volunteers were vocal in not wishing to be counted on to serve as bar and burger galley slaves, given a lack of conspicuous benefit to, or recognition of, Friends of the Mahurangi.

But while some are clearly conflicted about Friends of the Mahurangi’s role, others see this regional event as the perfect opportunity to recruit support for organisation’s first object:

To protect and enhance the natural and historical environment of the Mahurangi Harbour, River, estuaries, streams, adjacent coast and ridges including their visual and water catchment areas.

And to recruit members.

Thoroughly timely is a plan by Brian and Lynette Ladyman to launch the revival of a latterly neglected side of the regatta—the centreboarders. In the centreboarders’ heyday, the Ladymans were part of large fleet from the Manly Sailing Club that raced across to the regatta, raced in the regatta, and then raced home to Manly again.

The executive members of Friends of the Mahurangi met on Sunday evening to review the relationship the group has with the regatta, which it revived in 1977, and to explore ways of making the event both more sustainable and better serve the goal of reviving the harbour.

The executive decided that, post the revival of the prize-giving and dance, it is inappropriate to saddle one person with the role of regatta director. Instead, a regatta subcommittee—team could be a more conducive to load-sharing—will be established, including it is hoped, from volunteers attending Wednesday evening’s brainstorming. On 30 April, an annual general meeting ‘with a difference’ is planned.

Sunday’s short, sharp meeting of the executive broke up with declarations that the Mahurangi Regatta is a magnificent regional event and is within an ace of being sustainable and doing justice to the harbour.

Sweet music to the editor’s ears.

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