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Sailing away . . . The Waimakariri Sailing Club is looking for gear to help its sailors learn to sail. Photo: Supplied

By Robyn Bristow

Sailing boats, kayaks, wetsuits, paddle boards and life jackets are being sought by the Waimakariri Sailing Club.

After the madness of lockdowns and Covid-19 messing with life in general, the Waimakariri Sailing Club is experiencing a surge in adults and kids wanting to learn to sail, and families just wanting to get out of the house and do something different together.

Getting out on the water, under sail is not only great for one’s soul, health and mental wellbeing, it is also the start of a great adventure that can last a lifetime, says the club’s commodore Sam Jones.

The Waimakariri Sailing Club is North Canterbury’s only sailing club and has been part of the community for over 93 years.

It started off as a motorboat club, but a shortage of fuel during the 1930’s led members to move to wind power.

The club offers three main activities including social sailing, yacht racing and a learn-to-sail programme.

Racing is held at the club around high tide most weekends with sailors ranging from 10-years-old, to a couple of sailors in their 80’s.

The sailing calendar is on its website.

The learn-to-sail programme is now run from a private lake just north of Kaiapoi, which is part of Christchurch Ready Mix Concrete’s quarry.

The contained and sheltered waters of the lake allows new sailors to learn how to get a boat where they want it to go before they get into racing and social sailing.

The learn-to-sail fleet includes six plastic Optimists, a Picallo, a Sunburst, a Frostbite, a Hartley dinghy, two lasers and another two person dinghy.

To enhance the programme, the club is looking for sailing boats of any size or shape, kayaks, paddle boards, and windsurfers, to get people on the water and build confidence.

The club is also looking for wetsuits and life jackets.

“The local community has been very generous as I think they understand how important it is to get people out into nature and having an adventure,” says Sam.

“People get really attached to their yachts and if they can no longer sail them, they want to get them to people who will sail them, enjoy them and appreciate them.

“We are able to offer this in a very positive way.”

One Rangiora man, whose Sunburst had been in the family since the 1980s, wanted to see his boat go somewhere it would be enjoyed and appreciated, as he could no longer use it, says Sam.

“He was very emotional when we went to pick it up. He had looked after the red and white boat beautifully and everything was in beautiful condition.

“It was obvious that he had spent many happy hours not just sailing it, he had enjoyed many hours just tinkering and maintaining it.

“Melvyn’s boat didn’t have a name, so we named it after Melvyn.

“Some of our junior sailors took it out on a misty day and had a great time sailing Melvyn.

“We took some photos and took them to show Melvyn. It was very emotional, he was so happy, and we appreciated being able to get Melvyn out sailing again.”

If you are interesting in learning to sail, contact Sam on 029-2004554.

A cheese roll fundraiser is being run by the club. To order go to the club’s website, or email Sam at samtjones1972@gmail.com.