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Support for sublime vision of regatta and trail entwined

by 26 Jan 2016Regatta 2016, Regatta sponsor0 comments

Ngatira 25 January 2016

Prelude to a Regatta: B-class ‘keeler’ Ngatira sweeps into the Mahurangi Heads past Rodmersham, which was home to the Belle, of the 1901 Mahurangi Regatta. image Mahurangi Magazine

While one B-class might not a regatta make, the vision of a gaff-rigged ‘keeler’ sweeping majestically into the Mahurangi yesterday evening seemed to signal the beginning of the harbour’s annual transformation into New Zealand’s greatest gathering of classic wooden boats.

In fact, the diminutive slender form of the Ngatira, beneath her man-sized mainsail, actually signalled something else: A Mahurangi Regatta in sufficiently sound heart for the commodore of the host Mahurangi Cruising Club to be indulging in an afternoon picnic sail, on the eve of an event that has lived somewhat dangerously for years. But with 12 visiting yacht and boating clubs all chipping in, ongoing support from Auckland Council and the Rodney Local Board, and a major new sponsor, Teak Construction, the considerable costs of the shoreside events, including the sparkling prize giving and dance, are now being equitably shared, and met.

All that and an initially very fluid series of long-range weather charts forecasting progressively less and less threat of rain, and members of the main Mahurangi Regatta organising body, and reviver of the event in 1977, Mahurangi Action, can sleep less fretfully. The organisation has carried the risk of the all-too-weather-dependant prize giving and dance since reviving the event in 2004, as the Mahurangi Regatta Ball—the grand finale of Warkworth’s 50th celebrations. The many risks have been survived and the Mahurangi Regatta is now being seriously considered for support by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development as a regional event, thanks to the advocacy of Rodney Local Board members.

Such support and recognition would see spectator numbers increase, but, for the event to retain its strong local character and appeal, it is critical that the emphasis is on better not bigger, and that more and more people arrive by other than private car, such as by ferry and by special buses operating from Waiwera and Warkworth. The most prestigious way to attend the Mahurangi Regatta, short of sailing in of course, will one day be by walking the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, after bussing to Waiwera, and catching a refreshing swim in the pristine waters of Te Muri. Walkers will find themselves in the Gods of Sullivans Bay, whose hillsides overlooking the regatta start line form an immense amphitheatre. With ample room for folk to enjoy the spectacle of so much sail parading up-harbour as far as Scotts Landing, after having, mostly within sight, sailed out around Saddle Island and back, on the first of two circuits.

Ngatira 25 January 2016

Demise of Yearbook Birth of Magazine: When Stephen Horsley stepped away from producing the glorious Mahurangi Cruising Club yearbook to concentrate on the monstrously time-consuming task of restoring a classic wooden boat, it was assumed that its publication would have to be abandoned. Mahurangi Action stepped in to produce the only ever glossy (2007) edition of this Mahurangi Magazine, which had a section recording the previous regatta supplied by avid sailor and classic wooden boat marine photographer Lyn Bergquist. Lyn has produced the yearbook ever since. The Ngatira at her first Mahurangi Regatta, in fact her first time under sail, post restoration in 2010. photographer Lyn Bergquist

Thanks to the timing of the Auckland Regional Parks management plan variation process in respect to Te Muri, year’s Mahurangi Regatta is providing a sublimely serendipitous opportunity to recruit support for the Mahurangi Coastal Trail. The new entries tent, courtesy of the principal regatta sponsor, will also serve as a trail information stand, with one of the walls being a giant map of the trail and 500 pro forma submissions only requiring supporters to add their name, email and address. Volunteers, conspicuous in orange regatta ‘crew’ t-shirts, including for the hugely popular, quintessential beach events, will this year be fed by the Teak Construction crew from their nearby marquee, as just part of the company’s practical support, which includes a new, distributed public address system that folk will be able to tune into via FM radio.

But not everything’s been checked off the organisers’ checklist as yet. Cluny Macpherson, unless a small gazeebo can be borrowed, stands to be standing on his new master-of-ceremonies deck on the beach without protection from the elements. Additional directors’ chairs are also needed for the folk manning the entries tent, and for visitors there to support or discuss the proposed coastal trail. And while the volunteer muster is gratifying, many hands do make for light work and the current solitary scribe volunteered to carefully pen the names and event details on this year’s vibrant new certificates could certainly use company.

In keeping with the better-not-bigger maxim of the Mahurangi Regatta organiser and sponsor, it is planned, in the future, to operate a ferry between Scotts Landing and Sullivans Bay. This, in turn, could lead to a weekend, and one day daily, ferry service that would enable walkers from Waiwera to access the greater 900-hectare Mahurangi regional park estate.

The vision of the Mahurangi Regatta and Mahurangi Coastal Trail entwined is as sublime as the first sighting of the Ngatira.


Volunteers If you can help on Saturday, or next year’s Mahurangi Regatta, please email Cluny Macpherson at