Gulf boaties lose strong advocate

By Mike Rose

Tony Bouzaid on the Great Barrier Sky Tower. Photo / Jim Eagles
Tony Bouzaid on the Great Barrier Sky Tower. Photo / Jim Eagles

Champion sailor Tony Bouzaid was passionate about protecting the environment and keeping Great Barrier's bays free for boaties.

Auckland boat-owners, especially those who enjoying cruising in and around Great Barrier Island, have lost a strong advocate with the passing of Bouzaid last week.

Bouzaid was a man of many parts. A top sailmaker and a champion sailor in his younger years, he became a passionate conservationist in later life, especially after his move to Great Barrier Island.

In the last months of his life, he became concerned at what he saw as a real threat to boating in the Hauraki Gulf, and to his beloved Port FitzRoy in particular. He believed new rules covering the granting of aquaculture licenses would make it almost impossible to find a safe anchorage in many places and popular FitzRoy was likely to be one of the worst-affected areas. His concerns were sent to Sail-World.com editor Richard Gladwell in September and are reproduced here with their permission.

The son of top Auckland sailmaker Leo and the brother of One Ton Cup-winning Chris, Bouzaid was born in Auckland but spent much of his childhood on Norfolk Island.

However, just a few years after their return to these shores, the brothers joined their father in his sailmaking business, Sails and Covers. Following their father's death, the teenage brothers took over the business and Sails and Covers remained one of Auckland's top sail lofts until it was folded into the giant United States-based Hood Sails.

The brothers also followed slightly different passions for sailing. Chris famously became the first New Zealander to win the coveted One Ton Cup, at the time second only to the America's Cup in prestige.

While his brother was making his mark in keelboats, Bouzaid concentrated on the dinghy classes. He won the highly prized Sanders Cup in 1963 in the three-man X Class and repeated the feat three years later, this time as crew for Don Lidgard.

He and Lidgard progressed to the fast and exciting 12ft skiff class. In their (radical for the time) foam- and glass-built Query, the pair won the 1967-68 Silasec Trophy for the Interdominion 12ft Skiff Championship. They also won the JJ Giltinan Trophy in 1972.

Bouzaid then followed his brother into keelboats and commissioned the Half Tonner Waverider from yacht designer Laurie Davidson. In Waverider, he won the World Half Ton Cup in Poole, England in 1977 and repeated the feat in Scheveningen, Netherlands in 1978.

In 1979, Bouzaid was awarded the coveted Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy for the New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year.

Following the sale of Sails and Covers, Bouzaid founded Structureflex, manufacturing then-innovative flexible tanks and canopies. The company is now a world leader in the field, having won numerous awards for its creations.

Bouzaid again switched tack in 1992, moving to Great Barrier Island to run the popular FitzRoy House, a stunning guesthouse overlooking Port FitzRoy. He also became an active conservationist and was instrumental in the creation of the remarkable Glenfern Sanctuary.

The sanctuary, in which visitors are invited to experience Great Barrier's native wildlife, occupies part of the 230ha Kotuku Peninsula, between Port FitzRoy and Port Abercrombie at the northern end of the island.

It took about 20 years to create, saw the planting of some 10,000 native trees and was enclosed by a predator-proof fence. Thanks to a rigorous eradication programme, rodents have been eliminated and the area is now a haven for many endangered native species, including the black petrel, the brown teal, the kaka, the North Island robin and the chevron skink. Visitors can experience these protected fauna while wandering along an extensive track network, across a swing bridge and up to the crown of a 600-year-old kauri.

Although Bouzaid's contribution to this project will be sorely missed, Glenfern Sanctuary will remain an outstanding tribute to a champion sailor, a creative and innovative thinker, a highly successful businessman and a passionate conservationist. One can only hope Bouzaid's beloved Port FitzRoy also remains the boating paradise it has been for so many generations of Auckland boaties.

Victories

Sanders Cup 1963

Sanders Cup 1966

World Half Ton Cup 1978

World Half Ton Cup 1979

Yachtsman Of The Year 1979

Tony's plea for port
The proposed new legislation on aquaculture is going to affect the whole gulf, but more particularly Port FitzRoy by making it very simple to get licences for marine farms - to the detriment of recreational boating.

Already an aquaculture zone, 3km x 1km has been approved in the firth off the coast of Coromandel almost on the track of the Te Kouma race.

This was passed under urgency without any opposition submissions called for. We have six mussel farms in Port FitzRoy now, with a potential 10 waiting for the legislation to be enacted. Port FitzRoy could become another Marlborough Sounds, with every anchorage filled with mussel farms, except we are a lot smaller with a far greater density of boats on the doorstep.
- Tony Bouzaid, September 2011

- NZ Herald

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