The New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club organises New Zealand’s most famous coastal yacht race, the PIC Coastal Classic. This year, it has a problem: the club's boats risk being squeezed out of Auckland by a lack of fit-for-purpose maintenance space. But they are working hard on finding solutions.
Timberwolf in the PIC Coastal Classic, with Liz Alonzi on the helm. Photo (c) Suellen Hurling, Live Sail Die
Multihull owners are potentially the hardest hit by the recent changes to Auckland’s boatyard industry. Following the closure of The Landing in Okahu Bay, the dimensions of their boats mean there are few, or in some cases no, boatyards available to accommodate them for important repairs and maintenance.
“We are an important part of Auckland’s sailing heritage, when you look out the window you see multihulls sailing up and down the harbour, and cruising multihulls are a fast growing segment of the Auckland fleet but we are under threat,” says Adrian Percival Commodore of the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club.
Of the fleet, Liz Alonzi is one of the worst affected. Her giant green trimaran, Timberwolf (pictured above), is 7.6m wide, 10.6m long and has a towering 17m rig. This means that it’s either too wide or too tall to access any other boat ramp in Auckland, except for the Orams facility at Westhaven, which is designed to cater for superyachts – and priced accordingly, well out of Liz’s range.
The new Tamaki Marine Park has excellent facilities for many boats, but unfortunately getting to it requires passing under bridges which for a sailboat requires removing the mast – a process akin to removing the transmission on a motorcar for its annual service. Half Moon Bay, another recently refurbished, is accessible, but the ramp isn’t wide enough for larger multihulls. The haulout at Panmure Yacht Club was close, but still unsuitable for a boat like Timberwolf.
Like many Kiwi boat owners, Liz pursues her passion for sailing enthusiastically, pulling together adventures and race campaigns on a shoestring, and spending long days sanding, cleaning, antifouling and maintaining the boat. It’s a true labour of love and she wants to do it well. She gets some assistance with tasks from her crew, but for the most part, it’s a solo investment in time and funds.
When The Landing closed last summer, Liz was quick to obtain the cradle she had used for her boat, which was the only one in Auckland that her boat fits on, and after a long hunt for space, was eventually able to rehome it at Stillwater in the Whangaparoa Peninsula.
Wide Load! Liz and Adrian moved the cradle on the trailer to Stillwater. It was 5cm under the max allowed without a professional road pilot – making for a stressful day on the road. Video supplied.
While it’s great Liz now has a solution, it’s one that comes at a cost: delivery to Whangaparoa is a four-hour motor sail each way, and an hour’s drive from her home. With Liz working full time in software development, it’s time she doesn’t have readily available.
Timberwolf getting some maintenance at Stillwater to be ready for the PIC Coastal Classic. Photo supplied.
Adrian Percival believes that dozens of its club members are likely to be in the same position as Liz. He will most likely need to travel to Whangarei to have his boat maintained. Furthermore, the number of large cruising multihulls is increasing, and many marinas have built berths specifically to cater for the growing demand. And should an accident happen, these boats all need a place to haul out for repairs.
“Ideally, we would like for The Landing to be either fully or partially reopened. It was centrally located, cost effective, and had all the necessary environmental controls in place, but failing that we urgently need a sustainable solution to keep these famous members of the Auckland multihull fleet sailing,” says Adrian Percival. "While other facilities, like Tamaki Marine Park, have been built, they aren’t suitable for these big sailing multihulls."
“We just need a place to haul our boats out safely and reliably,” says Liz.
Are you an Auckland haulout operator with space to help cater for multihulls like Liz and Adrian’s? Contact the NZMYC - they'd love to hear from you!
Multihulls on the startline of the 2022 PIC Coastal Classic. Photos by Suellen Hurling, Live Sail Die.