Holding two large sailing events almost back to back was always expected to be a challenge for Manly Sailing Club, but one that Vice Commodore Harold Bennett says it has successfully risen to.
He says the support of the local community was key in making the O’Pen Bic World Championships, held December 23-January 4, and the New Zealand Laser National Championships, January 12-15, memorable for competitors.
The Bic Worlds attracted 133 competitors, and the Laser Nationals 110.
“I want to acknowledge the support and help from the residents, which was a standout for me,” Harold says. “We had around six people volunteer the use of their tractors to move the boats, which was fantastic.”
At times there were almost as many volunteers needed to keep things running smoothly, as there were competitors. More than 110 volunteers helped with the Bic Worlds.
Around 50 support boats were needed for the Bic racing, and 30 for the Lasers and many of these were provided by other sailing clubs.
The reserve opposite the club was fenced off so that the boats could be stored there, an option that Harold describes as “working for everyone”.
“We wanted to make it as user friendly for beach goers as possible, and the feedback was that we achieved that,” he says.
Sailing is not generally a great spectator sport, but Manly residents who overlook the beach have enjoyed spectacular views of the fleets’ comings and goings through both competitions.
The weather also played ball – Harold describes conditions for both events, as ideal, which he says means “a bit of everything” with winds on some days light, on others strong.
“The kids on the Bics had a great time,” he says.
He says in the Lasers, the competition was close in all grades and it was particularly encouraging to see some younger sailors stepping up into the more senior classes to show their talents.
“Being able to watch competitors like World No. 1 Sam Meech was a great experience for the young ones,” he says.
Best of all, Harold says that the local Manly Club sailors showed promising “flashes of brilliance”.
Next up will be an event that is expected to provide some fast and furious sailing – the Foiling Bonanza on March 15-17. This will include wind foilers (boats like windsurfers on foils), kite foilers, WASPS and International Moths.
Manly Sailing Club hosted the kite foiling nationals last year, but this is the first time that so many different classes of boats that can get up and fly on foils will compete on a course off Manly Beach.
Results of both the Laser and Bic events are on the club’s website, www.manlysailingclub.org.nz