Opening Up

The news that New Zealand is finally opening its borders again in phases starting from February 27th is welcome indeed. Facing the fastest rise in inflation in generations, worker shortages and a dip in the polls that looks like a shot-down fighter pilot in free-fall, Jacinda Ardern has cautiously acted to allow travel and dispense, in part, with the limited managed quarantine programme. It will still be a chore to get in to ‘the land of the long white cloud’ but nowhere near the impossibility that it is today. New Zealand is opening for business again and that’s a huge relief.


©Ports of Auckland / LISSA Photography

Too late for a last ditch America’s Cup? Probably. That ship has almost certainly sailed now which is a shame on any number of levels and especially when looking at the fabulous, windy conditions at last weekend’s Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. What a great on-the-water celebration. It looks like a more inclusive Cowes Week. My eye was naturally drawn to the Laser fleet sailing in pitch-perfect conditions, beneath blue skies, idyllic seas but fresh to frightening breezes. What a sight.

The Laser looks just so photogenic in those conditions and it’s no wonder why it’s still the number one single-hander in the world today. It might be in last chance saloon in the Olympics but it’s still a terrific boat. Of course i’m deeply biased but what’s that quote about pictures saying a thousand words? Fabulous to watch and I can guarantee that the sailors all had their hearts in their mouths at the gybe…


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

However, flicking through the photos, as I do, there was one shot that really encapsulated it for me and it’s one of the New Zealand Sea Scouts (below), five-up in a clinker with a reef in the main and more smiles per square inch than you ever see on the pro circuit. What a terrific shot of the kids getting vital instruction from a senior and enjoying themselves out in the port. That’s just great.

For all the glamour yachts and foiling dinghies that I showcase here on a regular basis, it’s the grass roots that matters most and seeing the Scouts in action is always worthy of a shout-out. How many of you readers first experienced sailing through this fabulous organisation? I’ll bet quite a few. It’s a vital component of our sport opening up a pathway that might not otherwise be there and teaching lifelong skills. Remarkable and important and especially relevant when we bang on with the endless debate of how to get kids into the sport.


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

And when I looked further into the Scouts programme down under, I found real gems of info with the 17ft cutters (as above) being built specifically for the 1st National Dominion Regatta in 1945. The original boats used Kauri as the main timber and the rig was originally a gunter design so that all spars could be stowed inside the boat for towing. Those original boats from 1945 are still in use today, including the first one ever built.

The cutters continued to be built in the original style into the early 70’s before fibreglass came in as a more manageable alternative and the gunter rig was replaced with a Bermudan design on aluminium spars. The Scout cutters are still being produced today and there’s nearly 140 of them dotted around New Zealand giving Scout Groups a fabulous entry into our sport. What a terrific organisation and all credit to those that make this happen – absolutely vital to the future of our sport at all levels.


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

But the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta is so much more than just a dinghy gathering. It’s immense. And I love the fact that there’s workboat races. Yes really. The tugboat ‘Hauraki’ (good name) above was the line honours winner and I’d love to know what tactical input that chap leant over the rail is providing. Whale watching? Oil management? Brilliant – just love it.

And then for the landlubbers there’s the hotly contested model yachting in more genteel inner harbour conditions – my vote is to increase the radio range and get them racing out to the Heads and back but I’m just cruel and critical.

But basically anyone with an interest in sailing or boating in whatever form is welcome at this Anniversary Day celebration of all things yachting. It’s a regatta I have firmly on my bucket list. I will do it one day. The Costa Smeralda, Chesapeake or Lake Garda don’t come close…


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

And the keelboats looked like they were having a lot of fun too. Sailing in New Zealand is something that you just have to do. Thursday evening races out of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is a memory that I will never forget. It was always windy. It was always tough. It was always fun. And sailing with an all-Kiwi crew is an eye-opener that stretches your ability both on the water and in the bar. Fond memories. Hazy in parts if I’m honest. Just the way it should be.


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

Well, New Zealand is still there. It never went away. And with country opening again it won’t be long before things revert to the mean and if you’re like me, sitting in a dull, chilly winter willing for the days to get longer and the mercury to rise, seeing the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta offers a glimpse of hope for the coming season.

I’ll leave you with a Laser shot. I can’t help myself. Congratulations to all involved. What a whole heap of fun…


©Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta / LISSA Photography

8 thoughts on “Opening Up

  1. Magnus,
    Let’s be honest to ourselves. The Wind Conditions in the AC36 Match last year weren’t great. We had predominantly light wind conditions between 8-11 Knots and it was mostly a driftfest and who could stay up on the Foils.
    That is not Racing to me.
    Malaga, if they do select it as Host Venue has certain Advantages. It’s only 50 Miles away from Gibraltar and the Winds that blow through the Mediteranean into the Alboran Sea create a Funnel Effect. We are going to see some strong winds there.

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      1. I don’t think it will be Bermuda Magnus! They came too late to the Party. That being said Bermuda & San Francisco most definitly were the two best Sailing Venues when you look purely from a Conditions Point of View.

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  2. Sea Scouts is such an important organization that deserves all of our support. It reaches out to kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds and levels the playing field through the joy of sailing!
    Investing time with these kids can push them to achieve incredible goals. For instance, our ships in the Texas Gulf Coast have been the platform for launching our students into the US Naval Academy, the US Coast Guard Academy, The US Merchant Marine Academy, Maine and Texas A&M academies!
    The experience and confidence that the Sea Scouts instill in kids gives them the tools they need to be successful in their endeavors beyond scouts.
    Kids are hungry for learning something fun, something that can build their confidence, something with structure to participate in, and something that could point them to a future.
    Time to give something back to our beloved sport. For they are the future of sailing..

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  3. I was born in 1949 and grew up in the grassroots of Rugby and Sailing, It is a huge part of our culture.

    This obscene wealth that you deify Magnus is poison to the grassroots, not mana from heaven. Just sayin.

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