Yachting: Award winner 'shocked and very proud'

Otago yachtsperson of the year Alex Bruce in his yacht Charade. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago yachtsperson of the year Alex Bruce in his yacht Charade. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Not even a text message making sure Alex Bruce attended the Otago Yacht Club prize giving gave him an ''inkling'' he might win the major award at the weekend.

Bruce was named as the Otago yachtsperson of the year at the annual prize giving, leaving him ''shocked and very proud''.

He was in Wellington on Saturday but opted to fly down that night after receiving the text message.

''I was also racing on Sunday, so we flew in at 7.05pm just to make the tail end of the prize giving,'' he said.

Bruce and his crew - wife Karen and Brian Shanks - had a stellar season in their yacht, Charade.

They won the South Island Noelex 22 championships on Lake Aviemore last October, a race which included three former national champions.

In addition to finishing fourth at the national Noelex 22 championships in Wellington in February, the crew also won the Otago championships and had wins in Te Anau and Oamaru among others.

Bruce also jumped out of Charade to race in the inaugural Farr 6000 match racing series at Port Chalmers, which he and his crew went on to win.

''We had a pretty good season,'' Bruce said.

''But it's not just about me. It's Karen and Brian that go out week after week. Individually, you could find better people, but as a crew we're quite good. When things go wrong, they tend to get fixed. It's quite special.''

Bruce and his wife bought Charade in 2005 after their children left home.

They are not sure exactly how old the boat is, but the trailer is registered in 1975.

''It was home built by someone in New Plymouth and it's just been handed down. It just happened we were looking. We bought it out of Napier,'' Bruce said.

''I've always sailed ... by accident we picked up Brian and he's stuck with us.

''We go out a lot. We virtually go out every weekend.

''The more you go out, the luckier you seem to get. It's a bit like running.''

Bruce and his crew plan to compete in the New Zealand Masters Games starting in January.

Les McBean won the yachting administrator of the year award.

McBean was behind the launch of a sprint series last summer to help sailors craft their starting techniques.

Bruce credited McBean and the sprint series for his win on Lake Aviemore.

McBean also organised the summer racing programme at the Port Chalmers Yacht Club and was active in his position as an Otago Yacht Club committee member.

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