Winter sailing and sailing games

Coming from Canada, I just could not grasp the concept of winter sailing. When I picture winter sailing, it involves first shovelling snow and then breaking ice, and not being able to hold a rope because your hands are frozen shut.

Winter in Canada normally means -20C and several feet of snow for months on end.

Where I come from, there are two good months of sailing weather, and then maybe a couple months on either side of that if you’re really hardcore and don’t mind layering up to the extreme. So when I was told this past summer that it rarely goes below zero and most of the winter is between 10-15 degrees, I thought well why not sail right through the winter. It seemed like a no-brainer to me. Here was a golden opportunity to get more kids out on the water all year round, and as the Learn to Sail Coach of the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, it was an opportunity that I definitely wanted to seize. And thus began the planning for a winter sailing programme.

I had little hope that many people would want to sail through the winter, because even though I find it tropical for a winter season, it still is fairly chilly for sailing. I expected to maybe get six kids if I was lucky. Instead, somehow we managed to scramble together 15 kids for our Term Two programme who came out to sail Optis every Saturday. Then the winter holidays rolled around, and again we had a larger turnout than anticipated with 10 kids over the week. Even now, as Term Three starts and it continues to get chillier, we have 13 kids sailing every week with three of them just having moved up to our race program. It really is an amazing group of kids, and I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching them with the help of our team of Assistant Coaches. The sailors’ dedication to the sport is truly admirable, and it really shows in their improvement over the winter season.

The winter terms have been focused on continuing to improve sailing ability and race tactics, but also on keeping sailing fun. We have been working on creating new sailing games to keep kids engaged in their learning. It started off with a simple game of Sailing Soccer, which then evolved into the first ever game of Sailing Quidditch that we played at the end of last term with 17 sailors participating. Coming up this term we plan to create and perfect a sailing version of Mario Kart Balloon Battle, among other games. Our coaching team has used this winter to get our creative juices flowing resulting in an innovative program.

Our college 420 teams have also been notable in their participation in the rise of winter sailing. Aquinas College sailing team has been training in teams racing 420s every second week this winter, with most of them also competing in Sunday dinghy races every other second week. We have also seen Tauranga Girls out training, as well as the very occasional sighting of the Otumoetai team. In addition to teams race training, several of our own 420 sailors have taken it upon themselves to learn fleet racing in 420s with trapeze and spinnaker, and race in the Sunday races. It really is incredible to see so many people out sailing and continuing to learn new skills and try different boats throughout this winter season. Everyone has been training so hard and having so much fun while they are at it, and it is really showing in the results they are achieving.

Hopefully we can keep this winter program going in the years to come, and continue to see it grow as our older sailors become coaches and new sailors come through. We are starting to look forward to summer, when we can start up after school trainings again and get back to full swing.

Our next program starting is our Spring Holiday Program which we will be running both the weeks of Oct 2-6 and Oct 9-13. No prior experience is necessary, we will be offering Level 1, 2, 3, and Green Fleet for the holidays. Please check out our website at for more details, contact our Learn to Sail Coach Kirsten at or call at 021 216 7522. You can check us out on Instagram for some sweet pictures of our kids out on the water.

We also offer Adult Learn to Sail. Our next course for adults starts on September 17, please contact Kirsten for more details on how to register. Check out our Adult Learn to Sail facebook page called ‘TYPBC Adult Coaching’ as well for more information.


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