Meet the Excellence Award Winners

The 2022 Aon Yachting Excellence Awards are fast approaching and some winners have already been announced. In the second of a three-part series, meet the winners of the Boating New Zealand-supported service awards and the Wichard-supported cruise category on Safety at Sea.

Service Awards supported by Boating New Zealand

Glen & Beverly Church (Stewarts Gully Sailing Club)

Glen and Beverly Church have collectively given approximately 130 years of service to the Stewarts Gully Sailing Club. They both held positions ranging from coach and race officer to kitchen and maintenance duties and Glen was commodore for more than a third of the club’s 72-year history. Glen is also active with the Canterbury Yachting Association and the Model J Class Yachting Club and both have been strong supporters of the New Zealand Moth class.

Allan Geddes & Fergus Thomson (French Bay Yacht Club)

The French Bay Yacht Club has had various ups and downs over the past decade, with growing fleets, good volunteer participation, diverse sailing options and strong performances at national events offset by the very real threat that the club’s lease is not renewed and they could lose the rights to use the land from which they operate. Allan Geddes, pictured left, and Fergus Thomson have been instrumental in overcoming this crisis to ensure the club continues to have a bright future.

Tony & Nina Kiff (Bay of Islands Sailing Week)

Bay of Islands Sailing Week has become this country’s largest keelboat regatta, and next January nearly a record 150 boats are expected to line up for the 20th edition. The event was created by Tony and Nina Kiff who wanted to offer something for keelboats, sport boats and trailer yachts while showcasing the Bay of Islands. He has done this several times, although there have been many times when the regatta has been threatened and would have been halted had it not been for the tireless efforts of Tony and Nina.

Photo: Lissa Photography

Last of the Summer Wine Company (Charteris Bay Yacht Club)

Every Wednesday morning a bunch of old salts get together for a cup of tea and a chat before getting into whatever needs to be done at the Charteris Bay Yacht Club. Over the past three years they have clad both the interior and exterior of the clubhouse, painted the clubhouse and storage sheds, replaced doors, rebuilt a launch ramp and maintained the old club launch. 64 years old. It doesn’t stop there and they take care of whatever work needs to be done around the place. Charteris Bay could not operate as a club without the time and dedication of the Last of the Summer Wine Company.

Lindsay McGregor (Sailability Auckland and New Zealand Hansa Class Association)

Lindsay McGregor has dedicated 16 years of service to Sailability Auckland and the New Zealand Hansa Class Association. He has been Treasurer of Sailability Auckland since 2006, never missing a payment, and founding member and Treasurer of the Hansa Class Association. Lindsay has recently had health issues but, despite this, continues to serve as Treasurer for both organizations.

David Nalder (Evans Bay Yacht & Motor Boat Club)

Evans Bay has a proud sailing history, but until seven years ago the club had been without a junior or youth fleet for some time. All of their learning to sail was focused on adult lessons. David Nalder set out to change that when he became a sailing academy officer on the club’s management committee in 2017, acquiring a fleet of Optimists and running a variety of learn-to-sail programs and development. More recently, Evans Bay became the first club in Wellington to introduce Open Skiff sailing. The club now regularly attracts over 30 junior sailors to club racing – and growing – reflecting the health and enthusiasm of young people around the club at the moment.

Jeff O’Leary (Waimakariri Sailing Club)

Jeff O’Leary has an impressive track record of success on his coaching resume over the past 20 years, with many of his sailors winning regional and national titles, but it’s the work he’s done to improve the lives of those around him that is less measurable. He is dedicated to helping young people and many of those he has coached at the Waimakariri Sailing Club have behavioral challenges, learning difficulties or strong family support networks. Jeff has a handful of boats which he has made available to sailors over the years and has often worked two jobs to help support his family and maintain the large fleet of boats. Somehow he even seems to find time to work on these boats in his spare time as well.

Trust Aoraki Aviemore Classic Regatta

Every Labor weekend for the past 33 years, Lake Aviemore in the center of the South Island has been awash in color as boats from the south take part in the Trust Aoraki Aviemore Classic Regatta. It has become one of the biggest trailer yacht events in New Zealand and one of the main attractions is the fact that most of the competitors and their families camp on site to create a special social environment. Although the organizing authority is the Timaru Yacht and Power Boat Club, the committee is made up of representatives from several different clubs to make this a truly collaborative event.

Bob Witham (Napier Sailing Club and NZIODA)

There wouldn’t be many top Optimist sailors over the years who hadn’t met Bob Witham. Bob was a measurer for the New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association for a considerable period, traveling to various regattas around the country as a class measurer. He has also written several measurement and safety guidelines and trained other measurers. If that wasn’t enough, Bob played a leading role at Napier Sailing Club, particularly in health and safety, and he also led the club’s MOSS exemption process.

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Ria Woollams & Lief Thomaes (Tutukaka Coast Youth Sailing Club)

The Tutukaka Coast Youth Sailing Club was about to close in 2015, with no young members and equipment scattered and in disrepair. That was until Ria Woollams and Lief Thomaes set to work to realize their vision of the club becoming a significant cultural and sporting asset to the community. The couple have fulfilled a variety of roles between them over the years, from apprenticeship sailing coach and club chair to treasurer and maintenance work. The club has grown considerably in recent times and even has an equipment house at Tutukaka Marina.

Cruising Award supported by Wichard on safety at sea

Peter Mortimer (Classic Yacht Association)

For most people, retirement means sitting back and relaxing. Not for Peter Mortimer. Since 2014, shortly after receiving a new knee, he has sailed extensively in the Pacific and Australasia, often alone or with a small crew. In 2017, for example, he sailed his 45ft Gary Wheeler ketch Tamariki solo back from Tonga, the following year solo from Hobart and earlier this year, aged 77, he sailed alone in most of New Zealand, often in open water most people would only tackle with a full crew. Peter shows no signs of slowing down and is planning another trip to Tonga in 2023.

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