Inaugural sailing camp ‘extremely valuable’ for youth

Some of the Wanaka team who took part in the Windshift Camp this week. From left are Stellar...
Some of the Wanaka team who took part in the Windshift Camp this week. From left are Stellar Nepia, Charlotte Reverley, Sebastian Rhind, Nicola Sanders, Laura Erichsen (front), Verity Lawrence, Craig Fahey, and Cam Melville-Ives. Photo: Sean Nugent
A unique sailing camp has been held on the waters of Lake Wanaka this week, attracting high-profile coaches and children from around the country and  abroad.

The inaugural Windshift Camp was conceived by Wanaka Yacht Club youth co-ordinator Craig Fahey early last year as a way for young sailors to experience all types of sailing in one programme, including kite-boarding and windsurfing.

Thirty-six children took part in the camp, including 10 from Wanaka, and  one from Bermuda. The rest came from yacht clubs from around New Zealand.

Over the course of three days they have spent time on the water learning different styles of sailing and exploring the sport as a whole. They stayed together at  The Lookout Lodge, which Mr Fahey said  added to the experience.

"It seems to have been pretty successful. I’ve had people who are prominent in New Zealand and world sailing say it’s pretty unique worldwide. There are sailing academies that focus on one thing, but we’ve created a way for kids to explore everything in one programme."

"Our mission was to try to create an experience where kids could try  some new types of boat ... all across the sailing spectrum and do that under the direction of some high performance coaches in each of those areas," he said.

Several of those coaches are household names in the sailing community, including Sir Russell Coutts, six-time America’s Cup winner Murray Jones, four-time Olympian Hamish Pepper and a host of others.

"The resources are incredible. These guys are volunteering their time for this because of their passion for the sport. It’s a real give-back sport, and people are always learning and willing to share their experiences."

Mr Fahey said the camp was extremely valuable for the local children, as they would normally have to go to Auckland to get any kind of similar experience.

He said demand had been such that there was likely to be another camp in the future.

"This [camp] was sold out very shortly after registrations. It seems like there’s a real demand for this type of programme. It feels like sailing has been waiting for something like this to come along."

It has been a busy couple of weeks at the Wanaka Yacht Club. Last weekend it  hosted the Wanaka Roys Bay Regatta, while this weekend is the Wanaka New Year’s O’Pen Regatta, which will feature nearly 60 BIC boats, a similar number to that racing at national events.

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