Have a Go Sailing
 
2019 Report:
 
Rotary Club of St Johns Inc. Have A Go Sailing 2019
Conditions were near perfect for the first week of Have a Go Sailing for 2019; mainly cloudless skies, flat water and a gentle southerly making Okahu Bay a great location for new sailors.
First up were 18 sailors from Panmure Bridge School.  The breeze was up enough for some Weta trimaran sailing and to get to Mechanics Bay before lunch.
The 25 St Patricks kids ranged in ages from 10 to 13, with about half having sailed last year. Lighter winds made for trickier sailing, but more capsize time.
Panmure Districts School treated Class 5 (years 5 and 6) to two days sailing. Day one started by heading west under the shelter of the Orakei Marina before venturing into more wind in Mechanics Bay. After lunch was sprint racing in Okahu Bay. Day two dawned with a light southerly so it was full speed into the water to get to Mission Bay for lunch. That done they motor-sailed back to Okahu Bay for a serious capsizing session; as in the confidence levels were so high that boats were capsizing faster than the instructors could talk through getting them back up again
 Week one down; 90 kids sailing days with almost all rating the experience as awesome and wanting to sail again.
 
Week Two, 6–10 May
A full-on week with 136 budding sailors (including two teachers) taking to the water. Churchill Park School kids sailed Monday and Friday, with St Pius, Glen Innes and Glenbrae schools during the week.
For the first four days winds in Okahu Bay ranged from near zero to about 12 knots from the east. Further out in the harbour the easterly had a bit more grunt so it was only the Glenbrae kids on Thursday morning that got to venture out past the old Okahu Bay breakwater.
Judging by the forecast the skies Friday looked like it would be a difficult day, but the opposite was true. As the sailors got ready the sun came out and a light westerly started to build, perfect for a No Instruction Day. No Instructions is not quite correct – they get told how to sit in the boat, what to hold onto, and to head to Rangitoto – but that’s all. With just enough breeze to make the boats go and move them offshore they soon get the hang of it, and most are tacking, gybing (not that they know what those are) and picking up floating toys before lunch. With the breeze having slowly built to about 8 knots these guys sailed from the ramp after lunch like pros – no wonder they developed a new rating for the day – super-awesome.
Each afternoon session was capsizing chaos and as usual this was rated as the favourite activity. While it seems like wasted sailing time the skills and confidence developed; of floating in deep water, getting a boat back upright, and getting back in it, are invaluable.
 
Week Three, 13-17 May
In week three 97 kids took on the challenges, bringing the total to date to 323.
It had to happen; the easterlies finished and the winds decided they were going to be the conductor for the week. This started with a no brainer cancellation on Monday as a roaring northerly blew into Okahu Bay (the small keeler lying on the launching ramp on Tuesday morning confirmed this was the correct decision, hopefully this group will get to sail on May 30th).
Tuesday dawned as a hole between weather fronts with almost no wind, but soon a light breeze from the west had the 24 young sailors from Stonefields School heading across to Devonport. They would have made it easily but for the Waiheke ferry wanting to use the same piece of the harbour at the same time, so a quick U-turn was ordered. With confidence on high post lunch saw probably our most enthusiastic capsize session so far; organised chaos.
The second Stonefields group of 18 sailors arrived on Wednesday with a moderate nor-westerly blowing. With lower numbers and a steady breeze we went for the Weta trimaran and seven Optimists, thinking we could rotate the kids through the boats. Great plan, but within a few minutes of the fleet getting on the water it started to blow around 15kts and throw gusts into the twenties. The Weta was screaming across the bay, some kids were just screaming period, and the coaches felt like huntaways trying to control a lamb break at docking with seven little boats going in almost as many directions; ordinary chaos. Fortunately Plan B kicked in and the Optis drifted onto the low tide mud off the main beach for a safe and easy (albeit mud walking) pick-up and tow back in for lunch. With the tide back in and a steady breeze straight onto the beach some sail-less downwind sailing was the order to finish the day.
Glen Taylor School kids arrived to showery blustery south-westerly conditions on Thursday. The plus side of the southerly swing in the wind was we now had shelter from the Orakei Marina breakwater. The downside was that if they headed off downwind they would be on the Kelly Tarlton rocks in short time. We put to sea with a ratio of 3 coach boats to 10 Opti’s and a plan to not let any yachts stray out as far as the moored boats. And it worked for a vary orderly morning and rapid development of sailing skills and confidence. This had the benefit that the more confident and competent sailors got to do a ‘breakwater reach’ after lunch, heading out into the squalls on the edge of the harbour with a coach boat riding shotgun.
Friday and the wind suckered us again. The third class from Churchill Park School dodged early showers to rig up, and with the overnight wind predicted to and appearing to drop down 12 Opti’s headed out to the middle of the bay in good conditions.
It’s quite hard to see SW squalls coming into Okahu Bay. Suffice to say another ordinary chaos session ensued as yachts went racing in various directions with their occupants in various states from yahooness to panic. As we tidied up some lovely examples of altruism occurred as classmates pitched in to assure their fellows that now they were tied to a mooring buoy they were not going to capsize (or worse).
After lunch the group was split into sailors and boaters, with the boaters towed out without sails to work on their boat and water confidence.
So, a challenging and polarising week. We may have put a few kids off sailing for life, but most were eager to sign up for more ASAP. The days with (safe) chaos are the best days.
 
Week Four, 20 – 24 May
A full week this week with four schools, kind weather and high tides. That said we only ventured out of the confines of the Okahu Bay breakwater on one occasion because the weather really wasn’t too sure what it was doing and the due to the busy ship, ferry and super yacht traffic on the harbour.
The lighter conditions made it easier to work through the programme, from anxious land kids being introduced to an (aptly named) Optimist through to being confident under a capsized boat in deep water. 
Ruapotaka School was new to the programme and their kids on Monday and Tuesday were awestruck at the prospect of getting out on the Waitemata harbour. Their blog on the school webpage gives an excellent review of one of their days, https://rpsglenish.blogspot.com/
Point England and Tamaki school kids on Wednesday and Thursday did some great sailing and swimming, with quite a few hot showers being the order of the day.
Friday saw the fourth class from Churchill Park School and they seemed all pre-primed and roaring to go. As such it was surprising that only three were soaked before lunch as standing sailing, rubber duck retrieving and bow riding/Titanic posing were all on after only the first half hour of sailing. After lunch one coach boat was on shuttle service taking the chilled back to the showers, while some ‘don’t feel the cold’ kids complained they had only capsized four times and it couldn’t be finish time.
Of the 117 sailors for the week about 20 had sailed before and around 40 never been in a boat before. Once they take on board that they aren’t going to get hurt, eaten, or drown it is amazing how rapidly their confidence and skills develop. The four-week total is now 440, so should top 500 next week.
 
Week Five, 27 – 30 May
The weather and the teacher’s strike on Wednesday curtailed activities for the final week, with only two sailing days.
On Monday 24 kids from St Joseph’s Orakei joined the programme and had a great day in moderate winds with many showing great composure and skill.
As predicted a decent northerly blew in Tuesday and although the thunderstorms didn’t eventuate the forecast did mean a cancellation for Kohimarama School.
The Thursday forecast was still marginal with northerly gusts up to 30knots predicted. As this was the 27 Stonefields sailors that were postponed 2 weeks ago we were determined to get them on the water, so as a back-up plan we obtained approval from Orakei Marina to ‘sail’ off A Pier. This provides a decent space of flat water between the marina and Tamaki Drive where we could do short sails, capsizes and other drills even if a northerly was howling. Fortunately, this was not needed as we got them on the water in a steady 10knot northerly and they we primed and ready for capsizing by the time the wind strengthened a bit.
The plus side of the dodgy forecast was that we had to put together a skills and achievements checklist to work through if we were on the pier. This turned out to be a handy debriefing document even for a normal day, with the kids self-assessing. Given that a big part of Have a Go Sailing is about not saying “I can’t” but working out how they can, the list comprised: -
 
I can …..
  • capsize and right an Optimist,
  • get back in an Optimist without help,
  • put on and check a PFD,
  • steer straight and turn around
  • do Titanic sailing,
  • sail solo,
  • float relaxed in deep water, 
  • go under an upturned Optimist,
  • name five sailboat parts (draw and label below),
  • tie a figure of eight knot,
  • identify and manage sailing hazards (sun, wind, clouds, rocks, water, animals, my boat, other boats, etc).
 
Hundreds of kids could have ticked heaps of these boxes over the five weeks.
 
Page Stories
The St Johns Rotary Club and Yachting New Zealand have broadened their relationship recently to cooperate in the ‘Have-a-Go’ project, which seeks to expose youngsters from schools in the Glendowie and Glen Innes suburbs, currently, to the challenges and thrills of yachting.
 
Rotarian Gary Key, one of the initiators of the scholarship, adds: “’Have-a-Go’ was introduced last year to students from St Pius School, and this year will include Glendowie College, Glen Taylor School(4 th year of participation), Stonefields School(4th year) St Pius   (2 nd year), and Point England School.
 
Danika presented on Kohimarama’s youth yacht club dedicated to introducing young people to sailing, and training them to love and excel at the sport. This all started in 2006 from Peter Blake’s legacy that every child should have the opportunity to learn to sail. The Team New Zealand 2000 trust provided the original funding to get the programme started, and the Lion Foundation continued to help as the programme evolve.  In 2013, Volvo Cars New Zealand came on board as the naming rights sponsor in support of youth sailing.
Our "Have A Go!" Sailing Program continues with Glen Innes School and we have been fortunate to have Gavin Gilmer assisting us deliver this amazing program. Here is an account of the day with Glen Innes School by Gavin.
 
The group was supported by Aimie (one of their teachers)throughout the two days , however the principal Jono and the deputy were there on the first day. The training was conducted by Reuben from Yachting NZ.
 
The kids were very apprehensive and cautious of the water but after Reuben told them about the importance of wearing life jackets they felt more confident . They were taught about the basic parts of the Oppie and showed how to rig them. This was also tested on the second day to see what they remembered.
They were paired up into two kids an Oppie and instructed on three particular sail settings and basic wind direction
After sailing in the shelter of the marina they were showed how to right the yachts after capsizing them.This exercise soon became a favourite as they (students)requested to do this on the second day as well.
Venturing into the channel was daunting as the water was a lot rougher , but many of them wanted to do it again on the second day.
 
St John's Club Member Gary Key is delighted to announce that discussions with Orakei Marina have "successfully" concluded.  They have agreed to make a "significant" donation to support the "Have A Go" Sailing Program. 
 
The Rotary Club of St John's extends sincere thanks to Orakei Marina and also to the Chenery Trust for their ongoing support of the superb "Have A Go" sailing program.

The fabulous 'Have A Go' sailing programme had a total of 250 students (mainly Polynesian children) from 12 schools participate from 1-17 May. The Programme Instructors Maria and Justin spoke about the fantastic three weeks inspiring the kids to give sailing "a go". They both said the Programme encouraged the students to try really hard - even through a few tears - with a focus on fitness and nutrition and advised how they pushed participants out of their comfort zone, using a very apt quote from an elite Olympian 'you are tougher than you think you are'.    

Maria said she started sailing as an 8 year old in Argentina and Justin has been sailing for about 50 years commencing as a 4 year old! He is very accomplished in lake and around the world sailing. They are both passionate about the benefits and opportunities in sailing.

Next year we hope to see the programme expand the participation from currently 12 schools to 20 schools. Grateful thanks is extended to Gary Key for the coordination of this event.

Justin, Gavin, Maria and Gary.

Thank yous are still being received from schools and pupils in our district who had the opportunity of participating in what has become a great sponsored programme by St. Johns Rotary.  Below are excerpts from Thank you letters the Club received from Glen Taylor School;
 
"Dear St Johns Rotary, 
I am writing to thank you for your sponsorship of the "Have a go" Sailing day for 20 Glen Taylor School students.  The students who participated in this fantastic day are still talking about their time on the water. To give our students a sailing experience is Just wonderful, as many would never have an opportunity like this. We would love to be considered for this awesome occasion should it he available again! 
Kind regards. 
Johanna Wrack Deputy Principal" 
 
"Thank you for the people that taught us how to sail. Thank you for taking us sailing. It made us so happy. We had so much fun with you and the people who worked for sailing NZ. It was lots of fun sailing and we thank you so much.  Sione"
 
"I enjoyed learning how to Sail.  I also enjoyed swimming in the ocean, and learning all Sorts of new things!  What I found challenging was grabbing the toys in the water without tipping our boat.  I would love to do it again but unfortunately I can't because I'm moving.  But I would like other people to give it a go, and have a chance of experiencing it. 
Te Morehu"
 
"THANK YOU MARIA AND YOUR GROUP FOR TEACHING US HOW TO SAIL 
I LEARNT HEAPS AND IT WAS VERY FUN.  MY FAVORITE PART WAS WHEN WE WERE FLIPPING OVER THE BOATS.  IT WAS LOADS OF FUN AND SOMEDAY I WANT TO GO SAILING AGAIN.  
I WENT HOME AND TOLD MY MUM AND DAD EVERYTHING THEN I SAID CAN WE GO SAILING ONE DAY.  MY DAD SAID NO BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO WORK THE BOAT!  I SAID IT WAS EASY BECAUSE I KNOW.  THEN HE SAID HE WOULD THINK ABOUT IT! 
CATHERINE"
 
"Thank you St Johns Rotary for having us to sail with you guys.  My friends and I had lots of fun. My name is Louis - the guy that got left alone in the water floating, without my pal, and holding the boat!  It was fun when I was driving the boat and sailing the boat and it was fun when I went on the SPEEDBOAT.  It was so cool because I have never ever been in a SPEEDBOAT.  It was cool when we went to save people from drowning and sinking like a trained professional LIFEGUARD.  Thank you for taking us for a sailing session.  I hope we see you guys again and have some more fun! Louis"
 
 
 
Its May!   That must mean the St. Johns Rotary sponsored, New Zealand Yachting programme, "Have a Go Sailing", is now under way.  
 
Conditions were near perfect for the first week of Have a Go Sailing for 2019; mainly cloudless skies, flat water and a gentle southerly making Okahu Bay a great location for new sailors.

First up were 18 sailors (years 5 & 6) from Panmure Bridge School who were treated to two days sailing.  Day one started by heading west under the shelter of the Orakei Marina before venturing into more wind in Mechanics Bay.