Women on Water


Women On Water is designed to give women of all ages and from all walks of life the opportunity to experience sailing in both a racing and non-racing capacity. Established in 2001, the concept of taking complete beginners out sailing on the Tauranga harbour now attracts 80-100 women each WOW night during the summer season.  Through WOW, many of us have gained the skills and knowledge required to sail proficiently and many now crew regularly and even own their own yachts.

The WOW Summer Series, sponsored by Mills Reef Winery since 2003, comprises 9 sails starting on Thursday 11th October 2018. Check the WOW calendar for dates for full sailing dates. Everyone must pre-register and sign on to be allocated to a boat.  It is important to get to the club by 5.15pm otherwise you may find yourself left on the dock.  Due to the staggered Mark Foy start the smaller, slower boats must leave the dock by 5.30pm but faster boats can leave a bit later, but it’s best to be early.  After the sail we encourage everyone to come to the Clubhouse for prize giving, spot prizes, raffles and to purchase WOW merchandise.  It’s a great time to get to know your skipper and crew.  A buffet meal is available and the bar is open so come join us for a night of sailing and fun with lots of other like-minded women. Here’s how it all happens...


All participants need to complete this online event registration form for the series which includes the safety declaration form.  This only needs to be done once per season and prior to sailing.

In order to allocate participants to available boats you must preregister before each race by 5pm the Tuesday prior to sailing. Using this form.  If you don't sign on we won't be able to allocate you to a boat.

Ensure you subscribe to our email mailing list.  All notifications will be sent only to the subscribed email address.


Weather, wind and general sailing conditions will dictate what you wear.

However, there are a few standard items you should bring:

+ Life Jacket
We strongly encourage you to bring your own Life Jacket / Personal Flotation Device.  It is better to wear your own as it will be adjusted to fit you personally and ensure you are comfortable and safe . However, if you do not have one all boats should have spares on board.


For safety reasons everyone should wear shoes and not bare feet.  The best shoes are soft-soled, non-slip, non-marking – runners are ok. Always check your shoes for tar or stones just before boarding the boat.

+ Clothing
Comfortable shorts or pants, preferably without toggles or chords that can get caught up or sat on, a stretchy shirt, a warm and/or waterproof jacket along with a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm. It is advisable to bring a change of clothes each time also, as you can get a bit wet occasionally.

+ Food & Drink

Sailing can be thirsty work so you may want to bring a bottle of water in a non-breakable container.  Snacks can be eaten afterwards during debriefing at the dock and remember to take all your rubbish off the boat with you.

AFTER SAILING                                  

All participants are invited to the Clubhouse after each sail for prize giving, spot prizes and raffles. Reasonably priced meals and a full bar service is also available. Partners and family members are welcome to join you. WOW merchandise is available for purchase including shirts, jackets, sailing gloves and head warmers.


Participating boats may sail in one of two divisions for the 9 race series. Boat sizes range from 6m trailer yachts to 12m keeler yachts.

The Training Division sees newcomers to the sport going out with skippers who are keen to share their knowledge and provide tips on safe boating and general crewing skills.  Following the given course these boats are not permitted to use a spinnaker or gennaker, ie. it is a no-extras division.

The Racing Division is designed for those with a little more experience and who want to feel the exhilaration of racing.  Following the given course these boats are racing for prize money made up from their racing entry fees and are permitted to use all sails available to them.

WOW for Beginners   

I was recently asked a very good question by a person who has never sailed in her life.  She noted that each date on our Women On Water (WOW) calendar is designated as a “race” and wondered what options were available for complete novices who may be intimidated by the idea of racing.

To answer her inquiry, each WOW night, although termed a "race", is actually designed for both racing and non-racing boats.  Complete beginners are assigned to what we call "training" boats, which are captained by experienced skippers who are very willing and able to take absolute beginners.  In fact, most of these skippers have at times raced their boat with only one other person onboard (known as “two-handed”) so they are very apt at handling their boats.

While training boats tend to follow the course set for that evening’s WOW race, the pace and atmosphere on the boat is a lot more relaxed than on the racing boats.  Training boats are not permitted to hoist a spinnaker, which means you won't go as fast as the racing boats nor do you have to deal with the sometimes temperamental sail.  A final perk is that if the wind dies, you don't have to complete the course like the racing boats - you just cruise home and have a wine at the dock.

But even if you’re brand new to sailing on a trailer sailor or keel boat, don't think you're being a burden!  The beauty of being on these boats is that you physically being there is already doing a job.  As the wind increases, the boat will start to tilt.  The skipper will have you sit on the side of the boat with your legs dangling over the side to help counteract that tilt with your weight. 

So although you may feel like you're not doing anything as a beginner, you've already helped the skipper and the boat!  Plus you are being exposed to what sailing is all about - the movement of the boat, the terminology of sailing, the camaraderie of participation and sitting with others on the rail, and the opportunity to sail on our wonderful harbour.

Any enquiries please contact our Chairperson Jackie Kelly via email - wow@yacht.org.nz or phone 021 188 1182

WOW Calendar for 2020 – 2021 season


Registration evening

Thursday 15th October 2020

Basic Skills Night

Thursday 22nd October 2020

Race 1

Thursday 29th October 2020

Race 2

Thursday 12th November 2020

Race 3

Thursday 26th November 2020

Race 4

Thursday 10th December 2020

Race 5

Thursday 28th January 2021

Race 6

Thursday 11th February 2021

Race 7

Thursday 25th February 2021

Race 8

Thursday 11th March 2021

Race 9 (Final Race)

Thursday 25th March 2021

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