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2016 regatta will be well worth extra week’s wait

by 1 Feb 2015Regatta 20160 comments

Scotts Landing – Sullivans Bay distances

Awaiting Definitive Dinghy Count: While a definitive count is yet to be made, comparing a number of aerial images to hand, there appears to have been at least 130 dinghies and inflatables pulled ashore at Scotts Landing, and nine kayaks or sit-upons. With the hundreds who came by road, including by the free regatta shuttle, attendance at the prize giving and dance was probably in the vicinity of… image Majorlook Productions

It will be well worth the extra week’s wait.

Well, only six days, actually, as Auckland Anniversary Day is celebrated on the last Monday in January, even if that falls on 1 February—the logic of this rule for setting the date of an upcoming Mahurangi Regatta, possibly the influence of Irish, as opposed to Italian, ancestry.

Because Mahurangi’s is held on the Saturday of Auckland Anniversary weekend, the harbour’s next regatta will be on 30 January. This is the latest it can fall, before working its Gregorian way back to 24 January, such as it was this year, which is the earliest month-day on which it can land. A week, of course, can make a world of difference when it comes to the weather. Had the Mahurangi Regatta been held six days earlier, and had the rain arrived a few hours earlier, most crews might have spent the evening aboard, rather than scramble ashore.

A night of rain is a timely reminder that the Mahurangi Regatta’s organisers need to devise a number of adverse weather strategies, and communicate same to the visiting yacht and boating clubs. If extreme weather is forecast, the decision is easy: the marquee and band would be cancelled on the Wednesday, such as it was when tropical cyclone Wilma was bearing down in 2011. In the event of a forecast for less-than-torrential rain and less-than-high wind gusts, the decision would probably be made for the Prohibition Big Band to play on. But in that circumstance, it would be unfortunate in the extreme if crews failed to come ashore, on the assumption the after-match function had been cancelled.

Scotts Landing – Sullivans Bay distances

Road Not Recommended: Regatta goers at Sullivans Bay should definitely be discouraged from taking the 34.5-kilometre-longer road journey to Scotts Landing for the after-match function—even pulling out of Mahurangi West Road onto State Highway 1 is a nightmare. map Land Information New Zealand Labels Mahurangi Magazine

Including about $8500 in Auckland Regional Parks fees waived, regatta costs probably exceed $20 000, without any allowance for volunteer hours, before during and after the event. Because a significant chunk of that is spent on the prize-giving dance, it is imperative that a failure to communicate a wet weather strategy doesn’t result in financial fiasco, particularly in 2016, when the Mahurangi Regatta, with any luck, will form an important part of the Auckland Regional Parks 50th anniversary celebrations.

Although the Mahurangi Regatta has matured into a sublime event, particularly as the nation’s internationally applauded classic wooden boat meet, it is only just getting on its feet financially, and there are bugbears remaining to be addressed, of which a lack of cross-harbour transport is the most glaring. The vast majority of Mahurangi Regatta spectators do so from Sullivans Bay, although the vantage point of course is Tungutu, towering above Sullivans and Mita bays. By road from Sullivans Bay to Scotts Landing is 37.2‍ ‍kilometres, but only a mere 2.7 by water. But it is not just the extra distance involved in the road trip. Firstly, traffic on State Highway 1 the Saturday afternoon of Auckland Anniversary weekend is extremely heavy—it is a mission just to pull out into it from Mahurangi West Road. Then, once at Scotts Landing, most drivers distain the free regatta shuttle service on offer in the hope of being the lucky one who will find a place to park there. Tunnel vision appears to set in and no-parking signs are ignored and all manner of desperate measures are taken, including the demented soul who, in 2014, parked across the entrance to Scott Homestead thus preventing the sound and lighting truck from entering, until on the verge of being towed.

For the first couple of decades after reviving the Mahurangi Regatta in 1977, Mahurangi Action diligently displayed posters in Warkworth and district shop windows, and paid for notices in the Rodney Times. Signs were erected from the highway all the way to Sullivans Bay, a practice that was initially necessary because Mahurangi Regional Park was then yet to be officially opened, and was not signposted. A sign was even necessary as the entrance to the park, because unlike today, access was by way of an inconspicuous, and steep, driveway 280 metres from the Ngārewa Drive terminus. With Sullivans Bay approaching capacity on regatta days, particularly when the preceding week’s weather encourages potential regatta goers to firm up their intention to attend, the decision was made to better look after those who came, rather than spoil the event by encouraging more and more to squeeze their way in.

So, the challenge for 2016 is, amongst other improvements, to have a cross-harbour ferry service operating, which could, in the fullness of time, lead to a regular Scotts Landing – Mahurangi West ferry, as part of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail network. The brainstorming starts tomorrow morning, at the Riverview Café.

That extra week will need to be put to good use.

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