Opening day is always a special occasion but it took on even more significance for the Christchurch Yacht Club over the weekend when they celebrated the start of their 130th season.
A healthy number of boats from Zephyrs and Open Skiffs to Finns and Firebugs took to the waters in the Christchurch Estuary off Moncks Bay for a series of low-key races and festivities to mark the occasion.
The Christchurch Yacht Club is one of New Zealand’s oldest yacht clubs, having been established in 1891 as the Christchurch Sailing Club. In 1935 the club was renamed for the third time, this time to the Christchurch Yacht Club as it’s known today.
Racing has always been to the fore, and New Zealand’s first Olympic sailing champions Peter Mander and Jack Cropp, who won gold in the Sharpie in Melbourne in 1956, were members, as was 1992 Olympic silver medallist and former America’s Cup skipper Leslie Egnot.
But current commodore Sean Thomson said they have a range of members, including trailer yachts and keelboats.
“Some of the juniors now are not so interested in the racing necessarily to start with but might be more interested in just going for a sail,” he told 1News. “Out here at low tide there’s a big sand bank. You can sail out there, play on the sand bank, swim back, muck around. It’s just trying to enjoy sailing and have fun.”
Opening day has changed a little over the years but fun was always the focus.
In the early days a selection of activities such as a swimming race, rowing race, greasy boom race, menagerie race, handicap yacht race, family picnic and a Sumner brass band played music.