Club History

Wakatere Boating Club was founded in 1926 as a sailing canoe club. 

Around the mid 1920's canoes were all the rage, their bright reds, blues, greens and yellows were all over the North Shore beaches. It was therefore inevitable that John Brooke and 20 other foundation members should form a club in Devonport and call it the Wakatere Canoe Club. In fact, 'Wakatere' means fast canoe.

Twelve foundation members of the Wakatere Canoe Club after a sailing race in 1928. Left to right - Ron Hunt, Bert Williamson, Sid Ivill, John Brooke, Warren Bond, Sid Lydford, Owen Probert, Bon Grut, Jack Hunt, George Kemp, Roy Lockwood and John Gordon.
Twelve foundation members of the Wakatere Canoe Club after a sailing race in 1928. Left to right - Ron Hunt, Bert Williamson, Sid Ivill, John Brooke, Warren Bond, Sid Lydford, Owen Probert, Bon Grut, Jack Hunt, George Kemp, Roy Lockwood and John Gordon.

Early days

Several canoes appeared in January 1927 and by February the same year some of the paddling canoes were fitted with lee boards, masts and sails, so that when the First Annual Regatta was held in March 1927, in a lively northeaster, the main event was a sailing race, which drew nine starters. The end of this first season was celebrated with a picnic at Rangitoto, a tradition which continues to this day.

In 1932, the Club and it's members were in the grips of the Great Depression. A number of it's keen racing members got together and talked about starting a new class that could be the optimistic figure of ten NZ pounds a boat. This resulted in the design of the Wakatere Class by John Brooke. We are fortunate to have the orginal blue prints framed and hanging at the club today.

Then five years later, the Wakatere one-design Skimmer was introduced, from this the Frostbite. The Brooke Frostbite immediately took off as a class. By June 1939 thirty six boats had been built at Wakatere’s clubrooms on the beach at Narrow Neck. 

Over the subsequent early years, the club became a stronghold of the Sabot, Frostbite and Sunburst classes - the backbone of club racing. Some of New Zealand top sailors started their sailing at Wakatere in these classes.

Further reading of the first 50 years

Junior Classes Develop

From the early 2000s, the Optimist class increased in popularity to replace the Sabot and become the main junior class at the club, along with the Starling, 420 and Techno Board. In 2002 Wakatere celebrated its 75th anniversary with a weekend of events including a formal dinner. Overall it was one of the busiest and most exciting seasons, hosting the NZ Optimist Nationals.

In 2004 Paul Snow-Hansen was 2nd at the Optimist Worlds, 1st in team and three years later Chris Steele took out the 2007 Optimist Worlds title in Sardinia, Italy. Top achievements from NZ sailors overseas, set a high bench mark at home and national regattas were fiercely competitive.    

The clubrooms underwent a complete renovation in 2007, with a new race office and bathroom configuration, as well as a new kitchen - thanks to generous funding from a number of trusts. We were also able to upgrade our training room facilities downstairs which enable coaching to continue around other club events.

Growth & Depth

As the junior, youth and senior classes continued to diversify and build, the club catered for all levels of dinghy racing and was able to support club members in national and international competition. Many of the major regattas around the world have had entries from Wakatere sailors. On the home front, Wakatere families travelled the length of NZ so that sailors could test their skills at class regattas, building friendships along the way. See our Hall of Fame

Feva fleet

In 2013 Wakatere Club was very fortunate in receiving trust funding for the purchase of a fleet of six RS Feva which are now being used to teach and give experience to juniors, youth sailors and adults in a double handed dinghy. Another highlight around this time was the replacement of the original wooden boat ramp with a concrete version thanks to Auckland City Council.

Bart’s Bash 

2014 saw the Club's participation in the inaugural Bart's Bash which was a Guinness World Record event for the 'largest sailing race on one day in the world', albeit at different locations. This was a season highlight. See the video below. 


In 2017 a small group of keen windsurfers at Wakatere took up Windfoiling. They became addicted to the feeling of flying across the water and racing started at the club. The class has continued to grow with a great sense of camaraderie amongst the fleet. Buoyed on by the America's Cup on our doorstep and advances in technology, foiling continues to inspire the next generation of club sailors. 

World Champs at Home

The hosting of the OK Dinghy World Championship in Feb 2019 was another milestone. The largest OK regatta ever held outside of Europe with entries from Germany, UK, Sweden, Australia and the US. OK Dinghy Worlds report - Sail World news

Many of those racing an OK have come to the class later in life whether that was for family reasons, racing in other classes, sailing keelboats, or for some, managing an Olympic campaign. They enjoy a banter and beer at the club and like the Mob, its been said of the OK Dinghy sailors - once you're in, you can't get out. 

2020 Onwards 

The hosting of national regattas continues to be a highlight of the club calendar every season and balances the Sunday club racing and coaching programmes bringing the whole club together in support. 

With thanks to the continuing voluntary efforts of its club members, Wakatere is a extremely valuable resource to the local community and wider sailing community. 

Wakatere Memorial Starting Tower

Early in the 1960's the Club commissioned a starting tower that would serve as a lasting memorial to it's members who had lost their lives during the Second World War. 

Designs were prepared by the Club's honorary architect Eric Price and the tower was constructed for the 1960-1961 sailing season by Alan Walker and a band of club volunteers. An inscription names the Wakatere Boating Club members who died on active service - Warren Bond, John Hunt, Ross Buckley, Peter Martin, Ian Gray, Jack Pybus, Harvey Grut, Norman Stephenson, Lindsay Hay, Ted Stephenson 

In 2007 the tower was restored with funds from Wakatere Boating Club and the North Shore Heritage Trust. The plaque was restored by the Devonport RSA. A rededication ceremony was held 2nd November 2007. It is occasionally used for heritage races using a clapper board system from the tower. 

Nestled amongst the pohutukawas, it is a familiar and notable landmark well known to beach goers and the community. 


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