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Sailing is a breeze for these kids

Feb 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News, Sport

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RAUMATI Beach School pupils were totally immersed in the subject of yachting at Waikanae’s Waimanu Lagoon recently.

As the instructor from Yachting New Zealand provided water guns as well as Optimist sailing dinghies, the year 8 students were guaranteed to be soaked. If they didn’t capsize their boats in the waist-deep water, they would be drenched by their fellows.

 Pupil Christey Blythen said she liked the water fights: “It was really fun when we capsized, and squishing in the mud.”

The fun day had a serious purpose. Yachting New Zealand’s Sailing…Have a Go! programme is designed to give students in Year 6, 7 and 8 the opportunity to experience the pleasure of sailing in a safe and well-managed environment. It also aims to encourage them in continuing with the sport.

Coach Matt Haslam drives a fully equipped trailer to the site, then gets the children to help rig up the boats, including putting up the mast and attaching the rudder.

He gives them very little instruction before they go out, as they tend to learn more quickly by trial and error.

“They can come to almost no harm in the Opti’s,” he says.

Principal Mike Farrelly says the school does not have the equipment and expertise, so it was good that Yachting New Zealand offered the chance.

“It’s about giving kids the opportunity to do things they might not otherwise get to do. It’s about getting them off the PlayStations, too.”

He hopes this little taste might be enough to get some of them to join the local sailing club. Twenty two pupils took part in the programme over two days.

PICTURES: Top: Gina Rogers (left) and Shannon Barclay show off their newly learned skills.
BELOW: Yachting New Zealand coach Matt Haslam supervises pupils on the water.
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