NZRB Gaming recently made a grant of $12,000 towards the purchase of a 420 Sailing Dinghy, foils, spars and rigging for the Kerikeri Youth Sailing club.

Although they were incorporated in 2004, Kerikeri Youth Sailing have been operating in the Northland region for over 30 years, encouraging and empowering youth to participate in sailing.

However, their fleet of seven 420 sailing dinghies is now severely aged, with several over 10 years old. While that may not sound very old, with the amount of use the boats get, that is the equivalent of a 25 to 30 year old boat. Two of them are no longer sound and need immediate replacement, while another two are becoming uneconomical as they need constant repairs, with one of them needing fixing almost every week, as old age and fatigue sees them breaking under normal use.

Currently, participation in the club is limited by the number of boats available, with young people missing out on the opportunity to experience sailing.

And at $15,000 per boat, it’s not a cheap endeavour for clubs to buy new boats - so the grant of $12,000 is a huge boost for the club and its members.

Club spokesperson Helen McNeill commented, “Sailing is a great sport for the thinkers and the strategists. Team sailing allows kids to participate in a team, while still having individual success. In saying that, we have some superb athletes on our team.”

The club has a proven history of success, with Kerikeri High School Teams Sail in the top three schools in New Zealand at the Nationals for the last seven years straight, and ten times in the last 12 years. This success can be partially attributed to the enthusiastic youngsters that participate in the program, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, due to the sport being relatively expensive to participate in.

As the home club of Blair Tuke, a member of the New Zealand Olympic Sail Team, Kerikeri Youth Sail has been growing rapidly, so it’s important that the club can match the demand for its services.

Sharon Ferris-Choat, who participated in two Olympic games, two Around the World races and held 7 world speed records also credits her success to the skills she gained from participating in sailing through Kerikeri Youth Sail.

She provided a letter to support the club’s application, stating, “I was a 12-year-old girl heading for trouble, and being part of this team was the turning point that was so desperately needed… to give the opportunity to children like me who otherwise did not have the means to participate.”

NZRB is a significant supporter of sports in New Zealand – in 2015/16 NZRB provided $8.0 million in commission payments to National Sporting Organisations, and paid out $3.0 million in Gaming grants to grassroots community sporting organisations.

Above: Kerikeri Youth Sailing members with their new 420 Dinghy.