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A Different Race is On - Boating Club on the move

Updated: Feb 1

By Pauline Stewart

Many know of the Mercury Bay Boating Club due to Sir Michael Fay’s issuing a challenge to the America’s Cup syndicate in 1987 The KZ1 yacht was the boat entered from the Club and they literally possessed the Americas Cup for a short while. That David and Goliath legacy is so very important to the Club but it has created some myths which need to be dispelled.

Myth - There was a Boating Club building at the time of that challenge by Sir Michael Fay. The Boating Club building was constructed long after the KZ1 challenge. Actually, during the time of the KZ1 challenge the Boating Club races were operated out of a Mark 2 Zephyr (as in the car).

Myth -This Boating Club was built by funds associated with America’s Cup yachting challenges. There was no single benefactor who financed the design and construction, but rather, many individuals who gave their time and expertise to make the club happen. “Some people in our community and further afield believe that our current rescue efforts are being funded by a few people who own superyachts or who run a Yacht Squadron,” says Commodore, Jonathan Kline. “We don’t rule them out and in fact invite them to join us as we look to the future, but what has been achieved thus far is from ordinary supporters with a passion for sailing. Many are the same people who were shovelling sand, guiding diggers, and moving concrete blocks to keep back the ocean just a couple of weeks ago.” The Commodore is concerned there is this myth that the club was built by a few wealthy donors and that these same donors are funding the current rescue and reinstatement efforts. “At the moment, it is grass roots fundraising with regional support coming from individuals and other yacht clubs,” says Commodore Kline.

The Boating Club does not want to apply to the larger funding organisations until they have seed money - funds in their account that can be put towards a funding application. “Our current fundraising efforts and communications with our insurance provider are all in an effort to pay back what we have already spent and to show that we are solvent again, “says Jonathan. “We had a robust bank account before Cyclone Hale, savings from subscriptions, venue rentals, regatta management and youth sailing. We have spent all of that and more - everything we have and some that we have been loaned - to get the club out of harm’s way and to keep a small portion of our operation going. “I think it is important for everyone to know that we are working hard to stand on our own two feet, not just sitting back and waiting for donations. Everything we have saved, we have put on the line.”

There are local and regional regulatory requirements on the road to reinstatement: resource and building consents, approved applications with Heritage New Zealand, and consultation with local Iwi. The emergency wall of concrete blocks and sand bags placed the day before the peak of the cyclone has to come out, according to the law. All of these future operations and applications cost money – money that the club does not currently have. Waikato Regional Council and TCDC are working with the club to bring it back into compliance. “We are going to be in trouble if we don’t,” says Jonathan. “Disassembling the protective wall and removing the blocks and sandbags, are all a part of this compliance.”

There are many uncertainties ahead of the Club. “We have been a community centre building since we opened,” says Jonathan. “Community events such as weddings, meetings, and also national and regional regattas are a part of our profile. So whatever the landscape ahead looks like, the Mercury Bay Boating Club’s goal will be to serve this community and the wider region as it has done in the past.”

The Club has commenced a Givealittle page and to this point has raised about $17K from just 68 generous donors. But the goal is to reach 500 donors? “We need some miracles,” says Jonathan “The Give A Little Page is our lifeline to the larger grants. “Do you know we have about 150 members? But, a good percentage of these are junior members. That tells me that this is a Club for the future.”

Scan this QR code or go to to donate to the Mercury Bay Boating Club via their Givealittle page.

Caption: The building in its new location.

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