Yachting: Support grows for yacht centre

By David Leggat

A high-performance facility for the country's best sailors looks to be moving closer to reality.

An artist's impression of the National Ocean Water Sports Centre to be built on Takapuna's The Strand. Photo / Supplied
An artist's impression of the National Ocean Water Sports Centre to be built on Takapuna's The Strand. Photo / Supplied

Providing New Zealand's best sailors with optimum conditions to be dominant players on the world stage is a key motivator for a national training facility mooted for the North Shore.

Yachting New Zealand officials are quietly confident plans for a National Ocean Water Sports Centre on the Takapuna Beach camp ground will get the green light next year.

Submissions on the Auckland Council's draft reserve management plan, which includes the yachting component, close this afternoon. More than 800 had been received by late yesterday. The Herald understands there has been a late surge in support.

National Ocean Water Sports Centre - Concept Design

The decision is not due until early February but Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie believes the $8 million development has significant benefits not just for the sailing fraternity, but other sports and the community as a whole.

The Takapuna Devonport Community Board will make a recommendation to the council and if it supports the plan, the NOWSC could be functioning by the end of next year.

Other sites have been assessed, further up the eastern coast and at Orakei Basin. Abercrombie said none could match the Takapuna location in terms of suitability.

Plans have been drawn by architects Warren & Mahoney, covering 40 per cent of the future public reserve. They include 250sq m for high-performance activities and housing the NOWSC; 500sq m of hard stand for boat rigging and derigging; and 1500sq m of underground storage.

The possibility of emulating operations such as those of Rowing NZ at Karapiro came when Auckland Council opted not to renew the 80-year-old campground's lease after next March.

YNZ stepped in, its $8 million cost funded through Sport New Zealand, the Lion Foundation, New Zealand Community Trust and the council.

"In order for us to continue to excel on the world stage we need to have somewhere like NOWSC where it can bring together administrators, support networks, crews, coaches and high performance managers in order to maximise the amount of time our yachties can spend on the water," Abercrombie said yesterday.

There are other spin-offs, such as increased public access to the water, a pedestrian reserve and better facilities for the elderly and disabled.

Abercrombie envisages sports such as kayaking, triathlon and waka ama using the facilities, but from YNZ's perspective it is logical to centralise its high-performance operation.

Having the Millennium Institute nearby, with its high-performance support services, adds to the attraction.

Those opposed to the draft plan broadly fall into two categories: those who don't want Takapuna to change from its perception as a sleepy hollow; and those who want the campground and motor home to remain.

So from YNZ's perspective, what happens if the weight of public opinion against the plan holds sway?

"If we don't get it then the funding we have in place will in all likelihood be lost," Abercrombie said. "This is a golden opportunity and if we don't [get approval], it may be 20 years before we have the opportunity to do something like this again."

- NZ Herald

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