Ocean race festival proposed for Wellington
Ocean race festival proposed for capitalJODY O'CALLAGHAN
CONSUMER AFFAIRS, AND ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS REPORTER
What do you think of the idea to have a ocean race festival in Wellington?
Wellington Harbour could become home to a festival of world-class ocean races if a local yacht club has its way.
The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club pitched the idea of an eight-week harbour festival becoming the city's next big event in an oral submission to Wellington City Council on Friday.
The council called for public submissions on its events strategy, which aims to introduce another "iconic" event to the calendar by 2016 to run with the World of WearableArt, the Hertz Sevens and the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival. It received 92 submissions.
Yacht club chief executive Dean Stanley told The Dominion Post Wellington's unique harbour arena was purpose-built for world-class ocean sports and a festival would fit with the council's wishes for another iconic event.
"Wellington has got a really strong advantage, for one because of the wind and two because of the ampitheatre on the harbour."
The city would "come to life" with events like the World Match Racing Tour, the Olympic Classes Regatta, the Global Ocean Race and selections for the Youth America's Cup - all of which the public could watch free from temporary grandstands.
"It is quite spectacular when you get those boats throwing tacks and gybes right in front of the wharf there.
"Sailing has a history of going out to sea somewhere and far away from where the public can see it. But this concept of stadium sailing has developed.
"We all love our waterfront. When we put something on and it's a nice day down there, people will flock to it."
There were already a series of international, regional and community ocean events including swimming, dragon boating, kayaking, rowing, triathlon and sailing taking place in the harbour. The standalone events could be held back-to-back in a festival that promoted Wellington, increased visitor numbers, expanded the marine and boat industry and brought vibrancy to the city.
And the community could get involved too, Mr Stanley said.
The World Match Racing Tour and Olympic Classes Regatta were eligible for investment by NZ Major Events and Sport NZ within Yachting NZ's major events strategy. Council needed to be "thinking big" for its next iconic event, he said.
An economic impact project was under way to measure the financial benefits of the festival to the city.
"The major difference is you don't have a gate take, but you still have people coming to the town and staying here spending money and so on."
Competitors would come from all over the world, bringing their full teams and hundreds of boats that gave business to the growing marine and boat building industry. "In our opinion, let's get on to it."
Council had some time before a final decision would be made.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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