Following a passion for sailing

Reina Del la Varis, 23, from Tauranga is pretty new to WOW but her passion for sailing has seen her extend her sailing out from WOW to Wednesday Keeler night racing winter racing with the Otway III crew. She is also doing her bit and joined the WOW and Keeler committees.

Reina’s life changed when as a child she saw Titanic for the first time, and fell in love with the ocean, ships, sharks, boats, you name it.

“To this day, I still believe that my love for the sea wouldn’t be what it is without that moment in my life,” says Reina.

“I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy after I left school because of my love for ships and desire to go to sea. This didn’t turn out to be the career I wanted so I left after one year. However during my time in the Navy I had my first attempt at sailing crowns, which I didn’t enjoy at all. Then we did a weekend sail on a Chico yacht out around Waiheke Island which was neat but I still wasn’t convinced.

“In October 2013 (still in the Navy), I was lucky enough to sail the Spirit of New Zealand from Wellington to Sydney for the Royal Australian Navy’s 100th Anniversary International Fleet Review. I loved being at sea and helming through the middle of the night on watch, harnessed to the ship so I didn’t slide from one side to the other in the swell, it was awesome.

“Unfortunately, after I left the Navy I never made much of an effort to get out on the water until I received an email from the Spirit of Adventure Trust about the upcoming world voyage of the Australian tall ship STS Young Endeavour.

“There were six spaces for Kiwis across two of the voyages, taking in the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day at Gallipoli. Thankfully I met all the criteria that were outlined and applied by letter as soon as possible, for the longer voyage of course. 50 days at sea; Canakkale, Turkey to Southampton, United Kingdom.

“I was selected and in April 2015, I began my life changing trip. We sailed from Canakkale, up to Istanbul, then to Volos, Greece – through the Corinth Canal – Valetta, Malta – Gibraltar, UK (where I then travelled to Cadiz and Seville in Spain for the weekend) – Portimao, Portugal – Morgat (Bay of Biscay), France – Seaview (Isle of Wight), UK – then into Southampton in June where I continued my travels to London and Brighton, then to Islay and Inverness in Scotland, and to Belfast in Northern Ireland before coming home.

“I completely and totally fell in love with sailing and the sea on that trip, but it wouldn’t have been the same without the rest of the crew, they were absolutely wonderful.

Back in Tauranga Reina found out about Women on Water, but only managed to catch the last race of the season. In October 2016 she went onto the TYPBC website and emailed the keeler committee seeking sailing. Her email was passed on to the skippers and Peter Dallimore offered her crewing on General Jackson on Wednesday nights.

Her favourite job is on the foredeck.

“So many bruises, but so much fun.” 

This year she’s done some short-handed races on General Jackson as well as the Whitianga race and after the Summer Series and WOW season ended, Reina took part in the NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championships which were on the MRX yachts up at the RNZYS.

“I sailed Steinlager 2 back to Auckland after the Auckland – Tauranga race this year and I go to the Friday afternoon rum races at the RNZYS when I am up there. I was also part of the volunteer crew on the Spirit of New Zealand to welcome Tara back to Auckland and I helped Gary Smith on the patrol boat for the Elliot 5.9 regatta earlier this year where I started to learn how to lay marks and set courses,” says Reina.

“Later this year, I am sailing on the Spirit of New Zealand for its first ever trip to the Chatham Islands which I am really looking forward to.”

Over the summer Reina’s hoping to crew in the Auckland – Tauranga race. And she has her eye on PACRIM next year, either as crew or helping out in one way or another.

“I am also quite keen on one day being part of the Volvo Ocean Race, and maybe even the America’s Cup. I’m planning to do the ‘Learn to Sail’ course in September with a friend so that I can get into sailing smaller boats too,” says Reina. “I have one thing on my bucket list and that is to sail in the Bering Sea.”


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