At Channel Magazine and Benefitz we love highlighting and supporting sporting clubs doing great things in the community. And yachting and boating clubs are some of our very best. All are great environments for family and friends to make the most of our coastal lifestyles.
One such club is the Milford Cruising Club. The club was established in 1923 for the purposes of bringing together anyone who wants to enjoy cruising and sailing on the Hauraki Gulf. Its location on the Milford Reserve and adjacent to the Milford Marina means the club can provide year-round access to the Waitemata Harbour.
The club is currently in growth mode, raising money for an expansion project to ensure it can serve the growing community in the years to come. The project completing their ‘Marine Community Centre' includes provision of a disabled lift and toilets, providing an additional meeting room and increased boat storage for the junior and youth sailing programmes. A large new deck area will also be part of the expansion.
The ambitious project is costing over $500,000, with the club raising funds in many ways. An exciting event is the ‘Art At The Marina’ art exhibition and sale coming up in early April.
“This really is a facility for the community,” explained the club Commodore Tim Turner, when we popped in to the club for a chat during February. “It is owned by the members, but is also available for the wider community to use. There are no less than 23 clubs and organisations using it regularly and we believe this will grow by 12-15 when we have completed the expansion of the facility.
"The centre is used by a wide range of community groups and we endeavour to ensure that everyone who needs a space to meet, fundraise or simply socialise is accommodated. Unfortunately the demand from the community is such that there are no free evenings throughout the week, and weekends are similarly constrained by reservations for larger events."
As Commodore, Tim Turner is a driving force behind the expansion project to meet the growing demand. The project team also includes John Innes, Tony Sparks and Peter Batchelor.
A major focus for the Milford Cruising Club has been making sailing affordable for children and families who could not otherwise enjoy the sport. Pivotal to this is the new benchmark in small sailing boats, the RS Feva class. Fevas are suitable for two or three people and carry an international class association. They are considered one of the most affordable and durable types of craft available and an ideal entry point for schools, yacht clubs, sea scouts and families. Three years ago the club hosted the first New Zealand National Feva Regatta. A fleet of 21 boats competed over two days from clubs Auckland-wide and as far south as Wanganui.
"The enlargement of our storage facilities will allow the Milford Cruising Club to continue to grow our Feva fleet,” says Tim Turner. But most importantly to also grow our juniors, equipping them with life skills and helping them to become active participants in society. Eventually the club would like to expand the junior programme to include disabled sailing and programmes for children from straitened circumstances. We need to create an endowment fund for this purpose."
Sailing is often portrayed as an elitist sport but that is the furthest from the truth at Milford Cruising Club. The club uses the centre as a base for running an extensive range of sailing activities and courses for adults and younger sailors, including school programmes for the Westlake Boys and Girls schools. New Zealand’s yachting success has generated unprecedented interest in sailing and the courses that the club can handle with existing resources are currently running at capacity. Therefore an expanded programme of activities for young sailors and the club’s hopes of introducing disadvantaged youth to the benefits of sailing are initiatives that are on hold for the time being.
"The club provides the boats to get families into affordable sailing,” explained Tim Turner. “We have wonderful volunteers to help the disabled, elderly and disadvantaged discover the positive benefits of sailing. What we need is help to fund the facilities that will house the boats and provide disabled access. We have a fantastic position that’s central to the diverse leisure pastimes of a rapidly growing population. At the moment we are the only centre with full facilities open to the fishing clubs, running clubs, youth engagement groups, arts groups, musicians, elderly outreach initiatives, community action groups, boating enthusiasts and other community users."
The expansion of the Marine Cruising Club looks to be an important step in growing a healthier more inclusive Milford. Auckland City’s vision of Milford as a special place for an expanding population includes a closer relationship between the town centre and the sea. The plan for Milford envisages a walking loop that ties Milford’s commercial heart, the beach and the reserve together; creating pivot points that integrate newcomers into the existing community fabric. The Wairau Creek Bridge (at the marina) has already been built to complete the loop. Now the Milford Cruising Club facility needs to be ready to fulfill its role – meeting the demands of a growing community.
Tim Turner says the clubs, associations and friends of the centre have been busy raising funds to complete a centre that the community needs.
"Generous donors have so far pledged over $200,000, and we are hopeful that a further $150,000 that’s still under application will be forthcoming. Unfortunately, the funding gap between what has been pledged and what is needed to meet the build budget must be closed or the existing pledges will expire. We are seeking support now to help us close that funding gap.”
Milford Cruising Club, 24 Craig Road, Milford.
About ART AT THE MARINA
Art at the Marina is the first of a new annual event for the Milford Cruising Club. It’s on from 6th to 8th of April 2018 and there will be a selection of artworks from well-known and emerging New Zealand artists on display. There will be an indoor gallery, an outdoor art area, a café as well as an artist in residence. Art at the Marina is a fundraising event with the money raised going towards the improvements to our facility for the benefit of the growing Milford community and all the clubs and associations that wish to come here.
Buy a ticket to our VIP Preview Evening to get first options to view and purchase the artworks on sale, while also enjoying a complimentary glass of wine and canapés (courtesy of Anise Catering and Babich Wines). Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online at: www.milfordcruising.co.nz