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On 6-7th December the Torbay Sailing Club will be hosting what is New Zealand’s largest on the water sailing event, The Sir Peter Blake Torbay Regatta. This popular regatta has grown in size and status to be not only New Zealand’s largest regular sailing regatta but also an annual local event in its own right.
There is little to compare with the scene on Saturday or Sunday morning as over 400 yachts prepare on the beach and reserve areas and leave Waiake beach on-mass and head to sea for a days racing. It is simply a breathtaking sight, which becomes even more interesting and absorbing when you see some of the sailors are tiny boys and girls aged just seven and eight years old, competing for the first time in any regatta. That is part of the magic that makes this event.
Locals around Torbay now regularly comment on the transformation of this small and usually tranquil bay into a bustling and vibrant centre of sporting activity with as many 430 yachts and an equally unbelievable 50 plus support craft. Beachside, the event has grown in size to now include the largest marquee the small reserve can accommodate, a separate rigging village area, and on site food sales.
The regatta was first sailed in December 2002 to remember the tragic loss of Sir Peter Blake, and with the blessing of Lady Pippa and The Sir Peter Blake Trust this annual regatta is now the premier sailing event celebrating the life of this great New Zealander.
This year, there is also a strong historical link with the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over occurring in Auckland in early February. It is 25 years since Sir Peter Blake won what was then called the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race in Steinlager 2, the first Kiwi to do this, and setting a record still unbeaten (winning all legs of the race). The link to this is strengthened by two of the Torbay Sailing Club members, both were part of that oridinal Steinlager crew (Mark Orams and Graeme Fluery) and another club member (Rob Salthouse) currently racing in this year’s event.
Major sponsor of the Sir Peter Blake Regatta is Volvo Cars New Zealand, not only linking with the Volvo Ocean Race but also actively supporting youth sailing here in Auckland. Other main sponsors include Ian and Dianne Dodds, well known local real estate agents, and their host company Harcourts Cooper and Co, plus Southern Pacific Inflatables, a company associated with another NZ sailing hero Dean Barker.
The Sir Peter Blake Torbay Regatta was originally a pure youth regatta, but the competitor range has grown and fleet expanded to now include adult classes.
A highlight of the event is the presentation of the Sir Peter Blake Trophy to the sailor who has delivered the most outstanding result across all 17 classes over race weekend. Past (youth) winners include current Olympic sailors, Jo Aleh, Peter Burling, and Sara Winther. All place getters also get a specially commissioned medal featuring Sir Peter at the helm of one of his racing yachts. These quality keepsakes help ensure that even the very young sailors coming through know about Sir Peter Blake - a truly great New Zealander.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 49 November 2014