CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week - photo (c) Lissa Reyden
CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week - photo (c) Lissa Reyden

The 18th annual CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week gets underway tomorrow, Wednesday 22 January. A record-breaking 141 boats are set to take part in three days of yacht racing as part of “the best big boat regatta in New Zealand”, according to yachting commentator Peter Montgomery.

For the first time in the event’s history, entry numbers sailed past a significant milestone, with over 100 more boats taking part than the first regatta in 2003, which saw 37 boats compete.

This year, regatta organisers are aiming to achieve Clean Regatta certification, by minimising the environmental impact of the event.

“We’re working with local community group Russell Recyclers to help with waste minimisation, and really looking at every aspect of what we do to see if we can be more sustainable. One of the most simple changes is switching to reusable bottles with free water refilling stations,” says Regatta Chair Manuela Gmuer-Hornell.

“If you consider there’s probably 1,000 people drinking at least couple of bottles of water a day, over three days, that’s saving 6,000 single use plastic bottles alone.”

Gmuer-Hornell says the organising committee also used video conferencing for committee meetings so they didn’t have to use cars to travel, and sourced sustainable trophies made of windfall rimu from storm-damaged forests in the South Island. Food and drinks will be served in more environmentally responsible ways as well, and food waste composted.

The event has also partnered with Live Ocean – a marine conservation charity established by sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, and Sea Cleaners – a charity that removes tonnes of rubbish from our shorelines. Organisers say as sailors themselves, they share a passion for protecting the marine environment.

CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week is run almost entirely by volunteers, who generously devote their time to make the event happen. The regatta also wouldn’t be possible without the support of its sponsors, headline sponsor CRC, along with North Sails, Explore, NZL Sailing Foundation, Mount Gay Rum, Luxury Real Estate, KZ Leisurefurl, Bay of Islands Marina, Gurit, NZ Spars & Rigging, and Bluefix Boatworks.