As the 19th CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week kicks off with Registration in Opua today, organisers are thankful they could host an event at all. With the startling news of a Covid-19 case in Northland just two days before the regatta was due to start, the organising committee remained hopeful, but realistic that a last-minute cancellation could be on the cards if the government raised the alert level.
“We had a Zoom meeting on Sunday,” says event Chair Nina Kiff, “and we decided all we could do was keep going as if the regatta was going ahead, but be prepared to pack it all in if that’s what the government advised.”
With hundreds of sailors crewing 116 boats entered in the regatta, and over 60 volunteers lending their time and energy to help make the event happen, there is relief all round that the regatta can still go ahead in line with government guidelines.
“It would have been such a shame for everyone taking part, as a lot of them come up from Auckland and Tauranga and all over”, says Nina.
Nina says they are taking all precautions in line with government advice, and are reminding competitors to stay home if unwell, use the NZ Covid Tracer app to scan the QR codes around the regatta area and marina, and wash their hands frequently.
This year organisers say they have been blown away by the support shown to the event by both sponsors and entrants. With all the uncertainty of the past year, organisers had expected sponsorship funding would be difficult to secure, and entries to be down. But all the regatta’s sponsors came back on board, and entry numbers are easily as high as they were in 2019, despite a lack of overseas boats.
“We’ve been really overwhelmed with the support from our sponsors”, says regatta Chair and co-founder Nina Kiff. “We did think we might struggle to cover costs this year, but our sponsors were so supportive and they all came back on board without hesitation.”
The regatta is also stepping up its efforts to run a more sustainable event, having made huge strides in this direction last year. The event was awarded Gold Clean Regattas status by marine conservation organisation Sailors for the Sea for its “extraordinary waste management efforts”. Organisers say they are quietly hoping they can go one better this year and achieve Platinum status, thanks to new sustainability initiatives such as digital-only documentation via the event’s mobile app.
CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week wouldn’t be possible without the support of its sponsors, headline sponsor CRC, along with North Sails, Explore, NZL Sailing Foundation, Mount Gay Rum, Luxury Real Estate, KZ Leisurefurl, Bay of Islands Marina, Gurit, NZ Spars & Rigging, Bluefix Boatworks and many other local businesses who lend their support.
Media Kit: All you need to know about CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week 2021
Three days of competitive and fun racing for yachts of all shapes and sizes, plus evening entertainment.
Racing starts tomorrow, Wednesday 26 January, and continues through Thursday 28, concluding Friday 29 January.
Racing takes place throughout the Bay of Islands, with smaller boats racing inshore, and larger, faster boats racing in the outer Bay. The ‘Island Racing’ divisions sail longer courses using the area’s spectacular natural features and islands as race marks.
Evening entertainment is provided at the North Sails & Explore Marquee, at the Opua Cruising Club. A Beach Party on Thursday evening will be hosted by Otehei Bay Resort on Urupukapuka Island. The Prizegiving ceremony is in Opua on Friday, with live music from the Orongo Bay Garage Band.
Stories from the fleet…
All female crew from Tauranga
Each year at CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week, more female crews are seen comfortably taking up positions from bow to stern. But there remains a wide gap when it comes to women taking the helm, and taking on boat ownership, with the overwhelming majority of boats entered in the regatta still owned and skippered by men. This year however, women are bucking the trend. Robyn Caundle, skipper of Young 88 Rascal Tom, is actively involved with getting more women on the water, mainly via the organisation of the same name – Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club’s ‘Women On Water’ (WOW). She’s entered CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week for the first time with an all-female crew, Team ‘Yeah The Girls’, whom she’s been racing with competitively for the last two years.
Big opportunities for young sailors
For the last few years, the regatta’s Room For One More programme has placed young sailors from local yacht clubs on board boats with room for extra crew members. This year, two boats in the regatta’s grand prix A Division have offered places for young sailors, giving them an incredible opportunity to learn from some of New Zealand’s top crews and professional sailors. Both Kia Kaha, skippered by Bay of Islands local Chris Hornell, and Formula One of Tauranga, skippered by Carl Smith, will take two young sailors each and show them the ropes.
Melges 40s face off for first time
Aaron Young, Commodore of the RNZYS, had a desire to advance the quality of club racing in New Zealand. It led him to impulse-buy a 40-foot carbon canting keeler from Europe within 72 hours of hearing about it, then persuade three mates to do the same. CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week will be the first time all four recently-arrived Melges 40s will line up on the same start line in the already intensely competitive B Division. Organisers expect there will be extremely tight and technical racing from this fleet as a total of nine boats battle it out for podium position.