Signs of great and sustainable regatta
The Mahurangi Regatta is the wondrous, joyous outcome of many, occasionally disparate, plans and agendas of volunteer, council, and commercial entities, of which the most prominent, after this year’s event, will probably be Boating New Zealand; the regatta is slated to be the focus of its next issue.
The publicity is welcomed, but not because the Mahurangi Regatta needs to be bigger. Part-and-parcel of organising the event, in the first decades of its revival by Mahurangi Actionfounded in 1974 as Friends of the Mahurangi, in 1977, was pestering retailers to allow regatta posters to be plastered to the inside of their windows. Costly advertising in the mainstream media—the only form then in existence—was considered unavoidable. Additionally, because few people knew Sullivans Bay, much less how to get to it, signs needed to be erected at the intersection of State Highway 1 and what was then signposted Pukapuka Road.
It is inevitable that more and more people will attend the Mahurangi Regatta, regardless of it not being broadly advertised. Historically it was an event beloved by Auckland’s yachtmen, as it was rendered by Rodney Times in its inaugural, 1901, edition. Last year the commodores of nine of the region’s yacht and boating club, or their deputies, were hosted for lunch by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron to discuss, with principal sponsor Teak Construction how the event can be made ‘better not bigger’—with the intrinsic understanding that improving the event will inevitably lead to, organic, growth. And while many regatta-goers would challenge the premise that the Mahurangi event needed improving, those involved in its organisation were painfully aware that, behind the scenes, there was much that was unsustainable—too few volunteers individually doing too much, for example.
Although there has been sporadic sponsorship, that of Teak Construction, for a three-by-three-by-three-year undertaking, has, for the first time since the event’s revival, and, critically, since the revival, also by Mahurangi Action, of the prize giving and dance in 2004, replaced the wing-and-a-prayer basis with one that allows the event’s unsustainability to be addressed. An example is the Scotts Landing shuttlebus. Because of the congestion resulting from too many vehicles attempting to access an area with nominally parking for fewer than 20, the free regatta shuttlebus has transformed the experience for visitors and property holders alike. Last year the principal driver was Rob Arnett, volunteering out of the goodness of his heart. He was also the in-period-costume driver at the Mahurangi Regatta Ball grand finale of Warkworth’s 150th celebrations. This year, Rob is in his 1962 mark-19 Seddon Nimoni, and a literal thousand miles away, and although the 12-seater shuttlebus has been booked for a year, there is still nobody to begin driving it, at midday on Saturday.
At last year’s prize-giving dance, seen contentedly sitting-out a set, West City Jazz Orchestraplaying for the Mahurangi Regatta as the Prohibition Big Band, 2004–2016 conductor Trevor Thwaites was asked:
I am about to turn 70, what’s your excuse!
Which invoked the response:
I’ve just turned 75!
Trevor’s seamless succession plan involved regular trumpeter Richard Breed taking over as conductor of the orchestra, and, aside from assuring that a beautiful relationship continues—it is Richard’s, and the balance of the orchestra’s, favourite gig—it nicely illustrates how this regionally significant event, to continue to receive significant funding support, for example, from Auckland Council, can evolve by continuing to draw in younger people. Mahurangi Action’s current president turned 21, as president, on the day she pitched her vision of the future of the event to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s general manager, a couple of years ago.
With Teak Construction’s cash, muscle and management expertise, the load is now considerably lighter on Mahurangi Action’s secretary, and his succession plan looking much more promising. If readers can help directly or indirectly to fill a few remaining gaps in the ranks of this year’s volunteers, now would be a fine time to make contact.
Whether as part of Mahurangi Action, the whimsical race organiser—the Mahurangi Cruising Club, and its ebullient Commodore Borislav Penchev, or one of the many participating organisations such as the Classic Yacht Association, Mahurangi Regatta volunteers, invariably, have the most fun.
590 Mahurangi West Road
RD 3 Warkworth 0983
+64 27 462 4872
Mahurangi Regatta supporters
Browns Bay Boating Club
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club
Classic Yacht Association
Devonport Yacht Club
Gulf Harbour Yacht Club
Mahurangi Cruising Club—host club and race organiser
Mahurangi Oyster Farmers Association
Milford Cruising Club
New World Warkworth
Panmure Yacht and Boating Club
Pine Harbour Cruising Club
Richmond Yacht Club
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Sandspit Yacht Club
Teak Construction—principal regatta sponsor
Weiti Boating Club