Youth sailing programme to benefit from generosity of two local men

16 Nov 2021

Youth sailing programme to benefit from generosity of two local men

The Mercury Bay Boating Club’s youth sailing programme is set for a financial boost from the upcoming sale of a classic racing dingy which has been totally restored to its former glory.

Club commodore and youth sailing coordinator, Jonathan Kline, said that they hoped to sell the 3.5m wooden Sunburst locally, possibly to a club member, but if not, then further afield.

It was due to the generosity of two local men that the youth programme would benefit from the proceeds of the sale. Des Gyde, who owned the boat for four years with his wife Yvonne, donated it to the club either for use by members or to on-sell, while 90-year-old Dennis Jones spent many months meticulously refurbishing the dingy to return it to a pristine condition. 

“I think what caught my attention was that this donation would be a gift from somebody within the community and it was refurbished by someone within the community and would ultimately benefit our community club,” said Jonathan.

While Jonathan was generally wary about being gifted a boat, as there were often some critical pieces missing, he said Des made sure the Sunburst came with all the essential accessories such as sails, boom, mast and centre board, but also smaller pieces of equipment such as blocks, shackles, sheets and halyards. “Whoever buys this boat will have to put in very little, other than get a WOF and register the trailer, which will be included in the sale,” said Jonathan. “The boat and trailer are ready to go.”

The dingy’s wooden construction gave it a cachet that fibre glass boats lacked. “Because it is a classic wooden boat, it will need ongoing love and care but just like a classic car, it has that appeal because it is a crafted yacht versus a moulded fibre glass yacht and the major components are mahogany, which is a very nice wood, and ply,” said Jonathan.

The Sunburst was a great boat for parents to teach their children sailing, for teens or adults to sail double handed and for creating memories. “Maybe the buyer might be someone who remembers the happy times learning to sail in a Sunburst a few years back and wants to have the same experience with their kids,” said Jonathan.




At this stage, the club was doing some research as to what would be a fair asking price before sending out a letter to club members. Jonathan said that the New Zealand-designed boat had been around since the mid-1960s - originally wooden-built and later in fibre glass - so prices varied enormously. “But whatever we make will go into our junior sailing programme,” he said.

According to Jonathan, the Sunburst became really popular with sailing clubs in Auckland and Wellington.  “There is an active Sunburst Association with a strong group of followers,” he said. “There are still quite a few around and, I guess, just like a classic motorcar of a particular brand, there is still an active racing fleet for these boats in regional and national competitions.”

Indeed, Des said he and Yvonne bought the boat, which did not have a name, from a man who raced it regularly in Auckland, but decided to sell it after coming to Whitianga due to a back injury. “It is about 35 to 40 years old and spent its entire life in Auckland racing in the Sunburst class,” he said. “We sailed it for a bit in Whitianga and then decided to restore it to its former glory, but it was taking a lot of time and I just wanted the process to happen quicker, so I offered it to the Mercury Bay Boating Club and Dennis has just done a fantastic job restoring it.

“Whoever buys it is going to have a very good boat on their hands.”

Dennis started sailing at the age of eight or nine and was always a competitive sailor, first in P Class dinghies and later taking part in major events like the Pan Am Clipper Cup Series for keelers in Hawaii. He agreed that it was a “lovely little boat.” He said that, despite being an engineer by profession, he always loved working with wood and had put in “hundreds and hundreds of hours” restoring, filling sanding and painting the dingy.

“It was a labour of love and I like to do what I can to help, especially young yachties,” said Dennis, a past commodore of the Rotorua Powerboat Club and onetime instructor on the Spirit of Adventure. “I have had a lot from the sportand I am putting it back where I can.”

Caption - Whitianga resident, Dennis Jones, at the Sunburst racing dingy he has recently restpred. The boat will be sold as a fundraiser for the Mercury Bay Boating Club’s youth sailing programme.