Learn to Sail
Auckland sailors often get asked 'it looks like so much fun -'how do I get onto the water?' The truth is, it's not that hard and it really depends on the type of sailing that you are keen to try out. Westhaven is probably best known for its racing - especially evening racing, when the inner Waitemata is alive with race boats especially in the start and finish area adjacent to the Harbour Bridge - but for many different reasons, there are boat owners looking for able crew for cruising and social sailing too.
Here are some ways to get started:
If you are just starting out, a course is a great way to get to grips with some of the basics, for children and adults alike. There are several sailing and boating schools operating out of the marina. The Penny Whiting Sailing School is probably the most well known. Penny has taught thousands of people to sail, and her boat, Endless Summer, is based at Westhaven Marina. With Penny Whiting, you will learn the things you need to know to be a useful crew member on a cruising yacht.
The Sailing Away School of Sailing is another option, that can take you right through to a very advanced level of sailing ability, including racing, or learning some of the things that you need to know, to get ready to buy your own boat.
For active, ambitious or young sailors
If you are fit and active, a dinghy sailing course is recommended as the best way to truly master sailing. In a small boat, you will get a close understanding of wind, water, and sail, that will be an excellent foundation for understanding the workings of a bigger boat, if that is where your future lies. The Sailing School at the Ponsonby Cruising Club runs a fleet of small boats and experienced teachers that will give you a great foundation for your future sailing career, and provide a stepping stone into the club sailing world.
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron also offers a sailing course for adult sailors, in Elliott 7 boats. If you progress with the training, this course can get you ready to race in the famous Wednesday night and rum race fleets - and much more.
Becoming a race crew member
Boat owners are frequently on the look out for keen and enthusiastic crew members, and even if you are inexperienced, if you look out for a fun, social boat, there are many opportunities to get out on the water.
If you don't know a friendly sailor who can introduce you to the racing world, Ponsonby Cruising Club warmly invites new comers to visit the club, and will do their best to match you up with a boat, and the Richmond Yacht Club's Victoria Friday Night Special, runs through summer as a way for boat owners to get crew, and for crew to get boats. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron also runs a structured race program, and social races on Friday afternoons.
Also try putting a printed notice up on boards at the clubs themselves, or advertise yourself on Westhaven's own Facebook group, the Westhaven Boat Shed. Make sure that you include details of your availability - some racing takes place during work hours (Thursday and Friday afternoons) and a surprising number of boat owners are keen to find people who can be reliable contributors to their crew pool for these races. Racing also takes place during the evenings in summer - Wednesday is the big night - and weekends in winter.
If all else fails, asking at the host yacht club about 90 minutes before a race start, ready to sail, can also reap reward, if a boat owner finds they are short crewed at the last minute. Make sure you are dressed for the weather, and ask the boat owner what you should bring.
If you have disabilities
Sailabilty provides accessible opportunities for anyone with disabilities, to learn how to sail, and to race competitively. Sailability maintains a boat compound at Z-Pier, and the programme's sailors can be seen out training, throughout summer and winter.
MRX fleet for hire
The 11 MRX race boats are used at all ends of the sailing spectrum, from world class matchrace events, to corporate sailing days. All of the boats are identical, and they are professionally managed and based adjacent to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, at Westhaven.
Buying a Boat
If you've spent time on the water and decided the lifestyle is for you, then buying a boat could be the next logical step. We are very lucky in New Zealand that boat ownership is still possible, even on a relatively low budget. The next step is to contact one of Westhaven's helpful boat brokers - listed in the Westhaven Business Directory - to discuss your requirements with them.