Lack of capital berths leads to cancellation of Wine Race –


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SuppliedThe annual Wine Race to deliver the first of Marlborough’s new harvest to Wellington has been withdrawn due to lack of available berths in the capital.A yacht race which traditionally delivered the first drops of Marlborough wines from the current vintage to Wellington, has been cancelled due to a lack of overnight berths in the capital. Aligned to the Beaujolais race in France, where the first drops of Beaujolais were taken to London, Waikawa Boating Club's annual Wine Race has delivered the new vintage to the capital by yacht since 2009. This year's race was scheduled in October. Rear Commodore of Sailing David Grigg​ said that the racing committee had looked at every option for making the event happen, but simply couldn’t find enough guaranteed overnight berths in the capital. READ MORE: No third time lucky for 2020 edition of Wineworks Wine Race Challenging winds keeps wine race close Hardy sailors ferry wine across strait Wellington City Council, Seaview Marina and the various boating clubs in Wellington all had some space. But combined there was not enough spaces for the popular race. “This is one of the downsides of the increase in popularity of boating, with berths and moorings being snapped up,” Grigg said. Breaking the news of the Wine Race's cancellation to long-time sponsor WineWorks fell to Boating Club Development Officer David Hancock​. “To have to pass on the decision to cancel an event which has so much potential is devastating,” Hancock said, but the increase in boat ownership was “a good problem to have for the boating industry”. The club was heading in a different direction he said, and looking at developing and growing other events. WineWorks Marlborough General Manager Damien Gillman​ said its association with the event had been an easy choice where they could link Marlborough’s wineries with the excitement of racing across Cook Strait. “We’ve enjoyed the partnership, and we’ll continue to talk with Waikawa Boating Club on how else we can combine WineWorks, the Marlborough wine industry and yacht racing for the future,” he said. Ian Michel​, director of boat sales company Vining Marine Limited in Waikawa, confirmed the increase in boat sales, which he attributed to travel restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic. With the marina closed off to boat owners and operators over the lockdown period, Michel said there were no boat sales.SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFFThe marina at Waikawa Bay is to have a 250-berth extension, due for completion by mid-2022. “Once we got back to level 1, the phones started ringing, and then it was very buoyant right through to the Christmas period. Basically all the stock that we had all round the country sold in very short order,” he said. “Since Christmas it's backed off a little, but that's more due to lack of stock around the brokerages. At the moment Vining's is quite desperate for good stock.” They were actively advertising seeking boats to sell, he said, and numerous owners had taken their boats off the market, as they would be holidaying closer to home. With local marinas full to overflowing, Michel said that a lot of people that cruise in the Marlborough Sounds over Christmas may be affected, depending on the progress of the building of the new extension to the Waikawa marina. “We'll be out there looking for the local people that are going cruising to outlying places to see if they would be prepared to loan their berths to people coming in, especially over the New Year Regatta period,” Michel said.Scott Hammond/StuffThe marina at Waikawa Bay is being extended to allow for 250 new berths, with the first expected to be completed before Christmas. Port Marlborough chief executive Rhys Welbourn​ confirmed that the extension of the marina in Waikawa would provide 250 new berths once completed. “Construction is well underway. You can see the breakwater being installed at the moment, and the reclamation, which was part of the design and consent, is in place,” he said. “We have faced a few challenges with Covid and supply-chain issues, but we're still hopeful that we'll have some of the first berths available before Christmas,” Welbourn said. The final completion would be towards the middle of next year.
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