New bylaw may scupper keeler racing

The new moving zones around cargo ships entering and departing the port may have a big impact on yacht racing on Tauranga Harbour says yacht club commodore Nick Wrinch.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in the changes but some of it is unfortunate to put it politely,” says Nick.

Photo by Murray de Lues

The moving 500m clearance zone ahead of and to 50m either side of ships in the channels is ‘pretty disastrous’ for keeler sailing, says Nick.

“We will have to work out what we can do.

“You start knocking off 500m in front of a ship and 50 metres either side, that’s a pretty big chunk of harbour that’s suddenly closed off.

“If we are sailing on a Wednesday night and we have 40 or 50 yachts out there. That’s a whole chunk of harbour. If we know a ship is coming in at that particular time we’ve got to try to keep yachts away from that channel.

“From a yacht club perspective I don’t think we are the problem.”

He says it’s a common sight to see the pilot launch moving in ahead of incoming shipping making sure there is no one fishing in the entrance, and he believes a lot of recreational sailors won’t have a clue about the new bylaw.

“So therefore they will have to keep on working in front of these ships to make sure they have a clear zone. So that they will be policing that because I think they will probably have to.

“With all these big vessels coming in they will have to have a boat in front of it clearing the way, making sure no one is in the way and they are largely doing that now as it is.

The yacht club sailors are very mindful that they have to keep out of the ships’ way and there are rules in place disqualifying racing skippers who get in trouble with a ship, says Nick. They are proactive.

On a recent Wednesday evening there were two cruise liners and a log ship departing during the course of the club’s racing, and it all worked very well.

“We had the committee boat out there talking to people on the radio warning them the ship was turning, the ship was now moving – and everybody knew exactly what was going on because everybody was on the VHF and listening and it went fine, absolutely fine and we were able to keep out of the way and let everybody get on with it.

“But technically I don’t know if we will be able to do that now because it will be just too close, 500m off a ship specially when its being turned, is just impossible to avoid really, even with the wider channel.

“It would be very nice if they didn’t bring ships in Wednesday night between 6pm - 8.30pm.”


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