Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Yachting: Sports centre in sight for Yachting NZ

Yachting New Zealand has taken the final step in lobbying for a National Ocean Water Sports Centre on reserve land just north of Takapuna Beach.

The project would run along similar lines to Rowing New Zealand's high performance centre on Lake Karapiro but without the gym, sports science or support service facilities. YNZ would instead use those amenities at the nearby Millennium Institute.

Final submissions regarding the possible NOWSC development have been heard by the Takapuna Devonport community board. The board will make a recommendation to the Auckland Council with a decision expected by February. If the council supports the plan, the NOWSC could be functioning by late 2014.

Other sites have been assessed along the eastern coast such as Mairangi Bay, Browns Bay, Milford and Orakei Basin. Takapuna is YNZ's preference.

National Ocean Water Sports Centre - Concept Design

They have secured $8 million of funding for the project through Sport New Zealand, the Lion Foundation, New Zealand Community Trust and the council.

The initiative came about when the council opted not to renew the 80-year-old camp ground's lease after next March.

The NOWSC plans cover 40 per cent of the future public reserve. They include 250sq m for the high-performance centre; 500sq m for boat rigging; and 1500sq m of underground boat storage. Other benefits include a pedestrian reserve and increased access for kayakers and swimmers.

YNZ has used Olympic sailing gold medallists Jo Aleh, Olivia Powrie and Tom Ashley to support its bid, along with New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley, Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin and High Performance Sport New Zealand boss Alex Baumann.

YNZ chief executive David Abercrombie estimates the NOWSC will also have a significant impact on the North Shore economy, especially if they are able to host world class regattas as well. He estimates when Napier hosted the Optimist world championships last year, $2.5 million-$3 million was invested into the economy and there was an estimated $7 million net return on investment after Auckland hosted the triathlon world championship series last month.

Opposition to the proposal remains. The majority of the 79 oral submissions were against it; something the community board will consider. The general theme was that the NOWSC favours one elite group in society (high performance sailors) rather than the wider community when there is limited public space in Takapuna. Several felt the area should be a green space and there was a suggestion it is not a council objective to try to win Olympic medals.

- Herald on Sunday

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