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Local sailors win national championship in South Island.

By Phil Hart.

While the fairs, festivals, air shows, markets, and open days were abuzz here in Mercury Bay over the Labour Day Weekend, a team of four sailors from Mercury Bay had travelled with boat and trailer to Aviemore Lake to be in a National Championship Boating tournament for trailer yachts.

This team of four was led by Phil Hart, who is quite a local personality, in the music scene as a solo vocalist/ guitarist; Boating Club committee, Chartered Accountant, member of the Aero Club and generous donor to a number of local causes and with Helen his wife, they are the Buffalo beach Christmas House. The Informer has set down Phil’s verbatim description of this successful South Island adventure.

“We entered in last year’s regatta. We did it for interest’s sake. We came second but it was a regatta not a tournament or championship. But we had such a great time. The organisers invited us to come back for the 2023 national championships. We were tempted - it was the national championship after all. But it is so far – 1,390 kms.

Because we had had such a great time and there are not many opportunities to race in serious competition in the trailer yacht category, our team of four said, “Yes, let’s do it.”

We didn’t have any great expectations. The South Island yachties are very competitive. There are a lot of fast boats. We are a bit on our own in the upper North Island. We have a fast boat, but in the South Island, there are heaps of them. They have a lot of lakes and little harbours, and they race their boats hard. It took us two days to get there, followed by three days of racing.

We went very well. In the end, we were tied with another boat on points. However, we won the trophy on the count back - the judges go back and look at how many points each boat had. We had won three races and the other boat had won only two races. There are nine races over the three days – that extra win gave us the points. We did not know the outcome until the prize giving. It was the first time we had entered the national championships; we were thrilled.

Despite being exhausted, we loved the experience. The scenery is magnificent - the beautiful blue lake Aviemore takes your breath away and then there’s the mountains and the snow.”

Phil’s crew all have a strong connection with Mercury Bay. Mike McGaughran, Radar Goldsbury (Ferry driver here for a few years), and Al Jolson.

“We race here most Wednesdays. We are the little purple boat racing out with the local boats on the harbour. We go and do regattas all over the place but have missed a few with the broken roads. We never really thought about championships, but we will start looking at other places to race.


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