Yachting covers all sorts of water activities, so in a country surrounded by water, it is no surprise that yachting is such a popular sport.

What is Yachting?

Kiwis are renowned as great sailors worldwide. The first Olympic medal for New Zealand in yachting was in Melbourne in 1956 and New Zealand held the prestigious Americas Cup between 1995 and 2003.

Yachting is sometimes called the ‘sport for life’ because it is enjoyed in its different forms by kiwis of all ages, both male and female. Going solo, or as part of a racing crew or on family cruises teaches skills in self reliance, teamwork and leadership.

Sailing can be as relaxing or as physically demanding as you wish, however before you start out you should be reasonably fit and active and be a competent swimmer.

Where can you learn Yachting?

Starting out in yachting is best at a Yacht Club or a commercial sailing school with a Learn-to-Sail programme. This can be either in a small centerboard dinghy or in a large keelboat. Equipment is usually provided and you have the chance to try the sport before you buy yourself a boat.

There are various schools providing an opportunity to try the sport:

Sea Scouts New Zealand

Elements Watersports

Volvo Sailing… Have a Go!

NCEA sailing.

And there are lots of local yachting and boating clubs all around the country that offer their own inhouse programmes too.

For those interested in competition, Yacht Clubs throughout New Zealand run racing (mainly during the summer months) in a variety of boats either in the evening or at the weekend.

What age can your child start Yachting?

Yachting is a ‘Sport for Life’.

Learn-to-Sail programmes welcome children from around age eight or even earlier if put together in a two-handed boat with an adult.

There is no maximum age in yachting and you can take up the sport as a child, a teenager or an adult.

How do you progress over time?

Progression through the sport of yachting depends on the goals you choose. For those with Olympic, Americas Cup or Ocean racing aspirations it pays to start early and follow a path recommended by those at the top.

It is common for children to start off in small boats and work their way up in size. A typical progression includes starting with an Optimist, then P Class, Starling and onto a Laser or 420.

Learn-to-Sail courses are available in either dinghy or keelboat sailing and the starting point is at Level 1&2 for both options. By this stage you will be able to sail a dinghy around a triangular course or be part of a crew on a cruising keelboat. The next step is either Learn-to-Race in a dinghy or keelboat. Alternatively older children might learn to skipper a cruising keelboat.

While Learn-to-Sail is most often taught to intermediate age children the programme is suitable for anyone who wants to give yachting a go, regardless of age.

What gear do you need for Yachting?

Yacht Clubs and Commercial sailing schools tend to provide a boat to learn in and you will simply need to bring along some warm clothing and a change of clothes for afterwards.

If you decide to join a yacht club and participate regularly then you might choose to buy yourself a boat and/or some clothing appropriate for the type of yachting you are doing.

How much does Yachting cost?

Each Yacht Club sets their annual subscription fee depending on the facilities and services that they offer and this varies greatly throughout the country. A lot of Yacht Clubs now offer a starter package price which includes the cost of a Learn-to-Sail programme as well as membership to the Club.

Boat costs vary from a few hundred dollars for a small, second-hand one, to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a large family cruiser.

How much time does Yachting take to learn?

Because of things like weather, venue, volunteers and resources, many Clubs run different structures of the Learn-to-Sail programme. The course takes around 15-25 hours to complete and a lot of Clubs set aside a day each weekend and complete the course over a few weeks.

If you take up racing then you could spend a whole day each weekend at the Club during the summer or you might take part in a keelboat series on a set evening during the week. There are lots of options and it really depends what you want to do.

Yachting is an activity that your child can take up by themselves, with you as a partner, or as a family activity. It’s enormous fun, and can be addictive (ask any aging yachtie!).

Useful Yachting Websites

Try the www.yachtingnz.org.nz or www.sailing.org.nz websites. Both addresses will lead you to the Yachting New Zealand website.

This has tons of information on who can teach you to sail, a Yacht Club directory and contact details. You’ll also find the latest news on Olympic class sailing, technical information for Race Officials and safety, a calendar of events and the Yachting Hall of Fame.

You can also try www.cbes.org.nz. This is the website of Coastguard Boating Education, New Zealand’s leading provider of recreational boating training, with courses (including School Programmes) throughout New Zealand

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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