A prestigious New Zealand yachting trophy won by legends of the sport has been destroyed in a fire which gutted the home of a Northland sailing icon.
Kerikeri's Ray Haslar was named Sailor of the Year at the 2005 Yachting New Zealand annual excellence awards - but now the magnificent Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy he received is a blackened stump.
Mr Haslar - who enjoyed a bumper offshore keelboat racing season last year including winning the Auckland to Fiji race for the third year in a row - lost the entire contents of his home in the Thursday night fire. But the loss of the prestigious trophy was the hardest to accept.
"That trophy didn't belong to me, it belonged to New Zealand," he said.
"One of the hardest phone calls I will have to make is to Yachting New Zealand to tell them what has happened. Dickson, Blake, Coutts, Dalton, Kendall, all of those names were on it, now it's a stump."
He retrieved the remains of the trophy from his burnt-out house on the night of the fire in case someone wanted to souvenir it - but he refused to be photographed with it.
"I think that would be pretty sick ... I was supposed to give it back in November but now others behind me won't get the chance to win that particular trophy. That's the hard part."
Yachting NZ was yesterday "distressed to hear that Ray and (wife) Leslie have suffered damage through a house fire".
"Our concern is for their personal safety and well being, and we're pleased to learn that they are both safe," a spokesman said.
He declined to comment on the loss of the trophy at this stage, but said it was the most prestigious of all the Yachting NZ sailing excellence awards.
"The main trophy is the Sailor of the Year and Ray was awarded it last year for a bunch of successes he had in his keelboat sailing. The trophy has been around since 1963. Absolutely, there are some big names on it," he said.
The Kerikeri sailing community was yesterday rallying around the Haslars, who lost everything except the clothes they were standing in.
They had been watching television about 10pm on Thursday when Mrs Haslar smelt "something funny" and walked into the hallway to be greeted by smoke.
Mr Haslar, who has represented New Zealand in sailing for "years", grabbed a fire extinguisher but quickly realised fighting the blaze was futile so they ran from the house to a neighbours and called 111.
"Absolutely everything is gone, 63 years of memorabilia," he said.
Photographs, furniture, records, files, trophies, a car in the garage, sails - all were burnt beyond repair.
An emotional Mrs Haslar, who was particularly upset to lose her wedding photos and valuables belonging to her deceased mother, said her husband had been a tower of strength.
"He was wonderful because I sobbed and sobbed and he put his arms around me," she said before hugging Mr Haslar.
Northland fire safety officer Craig Bain said there were no smoke alarms in the house, which was insured.
Initial inquiries suggested the fire started due to an electrical fault in the roof above an office, Mr Bain said.
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