20-year veterans of Bay of Islands Sailing Week still going strong

The regatta that Peter Montgomery coined “the best big-boat regatta in New Zealand” marks a major milestone this year, celebrating the 20th edition of the event from 24-27 January, 2023. With almost a hundred entries on the list two weeks out, it’s shaping up to be another competitive and hugely enjoyable regatta for those taking part.

Among those on the entry list are several names that also appeared on the results sheet for the very first Bay of Islands Sailing Week back in 2003. While some have missed the odd regatta over the years, and some now own different boats, there are a couple who have sailed in every one of the last 19 editions, and have entered the very same boats they sailed in 2003 for the 20th anniversary regatta this year.

Cees Romeyn, owner of Nexus – a Whiting 29 which he sails under the flag of the Opua Cruising Club – remembers his first Bay of Islands Sailing Week, partially for all the wrong reasons.

“I went the wrong way!” Cees says. “In one of the races everyone started and they were all coming towards me – I came from the other way. So yes, I remember that one very well.”

Fortunately his sailing skills have improved over the last two decades, and from an overall position of second-to-last in the first regatta, Cees placed a respectable 4th on PHRF out of 11 boats in E division in the last regatta in 2021.

Now 80 years old, Cees has always staunchly sailed in the windward-leeward E division, going against the grain of the 30-footer fleet. He would do the same this year, but he’s short of experienced crew, so he’s going into the Island Racing division for only the second time in his regatta history.

He says Bay of Islands Sailing Week is “marvellous”, “perfect” and “one of the highlights” of the sailing calendar each year.

Nev Campbell is another veteran of the event, and has entered his Atkinson 40 Kantime for the 20th time this year. He says the appeal of the regatta is not just the quality of the sailing, but also the camaraderie among sailors after racing wraps up each day. He’s looking forward to both at the forthcoming event. “I hope it’s as good as all the others, and I hope that as many boats turn up. That’s the main thing.”

Other recognisable names from the first ever regatta include Ray Haslar, who was one of the original founders and instrumental in the event’s success. This year he returns to sail his new boat in the regatta – a racy 30ft Soto design by the name of The Muppet Show.

Fellow regatta co-founders Nina and Tony Kiff have also sailed most of the last 20 regattas on their boat Wetherley, only missing one or two to dedicate their time to volunteering behind the scenes instead. They were recently awarded with a Service Award at the Yachting New Zealand Excellence Awards, in recognition of their tireless efforts as committee members and volunteers for Bay of Islands Sailing Week.

Entries are still being accepted for the 20th anniversary edition, and full details along with online entry forms can be found at www.bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz.