The country’s biggest multi-day keelboat regatta has opened entries for its next instalment this summer, and organisers have big party plans.
Bay of Islands Sailing Week - dubbed “NZ’s best big boat regatta” by yachting commentator PJ Montgomery - is hugely popular among the sailing community in New Zealand, with many sailors regarding it as the highlight of the annual yacht racing calendar.
The event combines three days of high calibre racing with a fun-filled festival atmosphere on shore in a world-class visitor destination, regularly attracting well over 100 boats and their crews to take part from around New Zealand and overseas.
Organisers said this year’s plans sought to ramp up the party atmosphere, with the regatta moving to a new venue adjacent to the Bay of Islands Marina and Ōpua launching ramp.
Regatta committee chairman Ian Clouston said the new venue would mean easier access, more space and better views for regatta participants to enjoy.
“We’ve been working closely with Far North Holdings Limited on the new venue, and we’re really pleased to be able to move the event hub there.
“We’ll have the marquee overlooking the marina - which is a great backdrop - and it’s much more central so it’ll be closer for most participants.
“There’s more room too, so we’ll be able to offer a lot more for the sailors to enjoy before and after racing each day.”
Now entering its 22nd year, the regatta has endured challenges in recent years: Covid cancellations in 2022, and bad weather in 2023.
Nevertheless, organisers hold high hopes the 2024 event will mark a return to the regatta’s heyday and have their sights set on breaking attendance records.
“Our previous record for entries just before Covid came along was 139 boats. And of course we’re always trying to make it bigger and better than before,” said Clouston.
“There’s also the inaugural Sydney to Auckland race in October this year, so we might see a few more international entries if owners decide to keep their boats in New Zealand to take part in events here.
“Bay of Islands Sailing Week would have to be on a lot of Aussie sailors’ lists.”
Bay of Islands Sailing Week takes place from January 23 to 26, with racing throughout the spectacular Bay of Islands, and evening entertainment in Ōpua.
The Notice of Race is available on the website and entries are invited from keelboats, multihulls, trailer yachts and sport boats.
For more information visit: bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz.