Like many New Zealanders and sailing fans throughout the world, on 18-19 March I watched the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix on TV, proud of the kiwi sailors and the beautiful Te Whakaraupō – Lyttleton Harbour.

The event was a huge win for the community, with spectators and boaties travelling from far and wide to watch.

We’d like to acknowledge Carolyn Tapley who is a Board member of Volunteering New Zealand and on the Board of Coastguard Canterbury, and Coastguard New Zealand.

Carolyn says, “SailGP has consumed me and Coastguard Canterbury for the last six months.” 

She was excited to meet Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro and her husband during the event.

Callum Gillespie, CEO of Coastguard New Zealand, Dame Cindy Kiro Governor General, Carolyn Tapley, Board Member Coastguard New Zealand and Volunteering New Zealand, Dr Richard Davies, husband of Dame Cindy.

Volunteers were vital the success of SailGP. Land-based hosts helped with the shuttle buses from the city and at the Fan Zone, welcoming spectators to the on-shore viewing site beside the harbour.

Volunteers from Coastguard Canterbury, Kaikōura, North Canterbury, Sumner and West Coast played key roles in ensuring everyone was safe on the water, whatever their waka (super yachts included).

The week leading up to and including the weekend for the Coastguard crew included:

  • supporting course marshals during their on-water training at the start of the week
  • acting as the safety boat for traditional waka involved in the official SailGP pōwhiri
  • supporting the protection of the Hectors dolphin
  • hosting the SailGP marshals and housing the taonga overnight
  • patrolling the harbour and the Waimakariri Bar, assisting boaties and responding when required.

About 20 volunteers helped with the marine mammal programme – supporting the protection of the endangered Hectors dolphin. These were students or others interested in wildlife who worked with scientists (aided by technology) to spot dolphins.

Christine Korako who ran this programme on behalf of SailGP said it was a fantastic group who welcomed the learning opportunity and contributed to the success of the event. The first race of the weekend was postponed due to dolphin sightings – proving the worth of the programme.

Congratulations to all volunteers. We acknowledge the commitment of time and effort this takes – unseen by worldwide TV viewers. It takes great volunteer management to make this happen.