Today's letter: Yacht race

00:06, Dec 13 2012

Ali Timms appears to think that a yacht race from Auckland to Bluff will cost Invercargill ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. That needn't be the case.

Russell, in the Bay of Islands, has hosted the Coastal Classic yacht race annually at Labour Weekend for decades. The Russell Boating Club hosts the event and provides the infrastructure free for the end of the race. This is a lively little town of only a few hundred and even fewer ratepayers. None of us pays a cent.

I know from six years running a restaurant on the waterfront that the Coastal Classic weekend is the busiest of the year and a great start to the summer season here. Sometimes we had nearly 200 wet and hungry yachties clamouring for food and drink.

The arriving yachts moor at Matauwhi Bay, a kilometre or so from the town, or in front of Russell. No extra moorings are provided or laid down for the race.

Racers by their very nature are brave and independent people. They can sort out their own moorings or set their own anchors, without a handout from the council or ratepayers.

After staying a night or two in Russell, the Coastal Classicers from out of town return to their home base, under their own steam and at their own cost.

All Coastal Classic racers require of Russell is a bright welcome, a place to have a few drinks after the race and a place to have a meal or two. Some racers stay locally, which is good for the accommodation business. Others sleep on their boats.

Mayor Tim Shadbolt should investigate the Coastal Classic race setup carefully and see how it is run. It is a model for Invercargill and his research will show the proposed Auckland-to-Bluff race should cost Invercargill and Southland ratepayers nothing.

Abridged - Editor


The Southland Times