Wihau Shield - 29th & 30th May 2021
Saturday 29th May & Sunday 30th May 2021, at Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club
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The event took place on Tauranga Harbour over the weekend 9th and 10th of April 2016. Allow yourselves to mentally celebrate the occasion, the Wihau Shield contest of yore is back.
You may well be asking: “How has this come about. When it was it last competed for?” As you ponder these questions you recall your own experiences of the Wihau Shield. Capsizing between races in order to change boats in the cold water of Lake Rotorua. The fun you had in the hot tub at the club afterwards.
When Greg Scott’s son began sailing a P Class in 2014, Greg began reflecting on his own P Class sailing; the huge fleets, the competitors, the Tanner & Tauranga Cups, the Wihau Shield. TYPBC member Greg Scott became a ‘Born Again’ P Class disciple. He evangelised about the old P Class traditions, how to revive them and what else could be done for the P Class? The Wihau Shield would be a worthwhile cause he enthused. In 2015 Greg began enquiring and found the 90cm x 70cm- 13kg shield had lain fallow at the Rotorua Yacht Club for almost twenty years. And that the P Class committee had approached the Rotorua Yacht Club a few years ago, asking if they would entrust the Wihau Shield to TYPBC on a long term loan.
“The Rotorua Sailing Club is the home of the Wihau Shield and this is where it’s going to stay,” responded the administration at the time. As if this spurn had never occurred, Greg Scott contacted Robin Parr, the current commodore of the Rotorua Yacht Club, and made a pitch for the Wihau Shield.
“Because it was too big for the trophy cabinet,” recalls Robin, “the Wihau Shield had been shoved under a bench in the tower, and even during clean-ups no-one took any notice of it. So why not give it the light of day. I was confident TYPBC could keep it safe and it would be great if they reinstated the competition.”
On arrival of the Wihau Shield at TYPBC, Greg cleaned it lovingly. As he considered some of the famous yachting names engraved on the tiny metal plaques, he mused on how to best promote its re-introduction.
Lo - suspended from a tree in Torbay at the 2015 Sir Peter Blake regatta, a shapely piece of wood larger than the Ranfurly Shield glittered in the sun. For those whose eye it caught probably uttered the wtf phrase, and a remarkable number showed genuine interest.
“The support I received was unbelievable,” said Greg. “All I did was come up with the idea and everyone got behind it. Dave McGlashen and Alan Roper were particularly helpful.”
On the weekend 9th and 10th of April 2016, seventeen young P Class sailors from the upper North Island arrived in Tauranga for the reinstatement of the Wihau Shield competition. Most of the Auckland P Class sailors were unable to attend due to their club championships being held the same weekend.
“We need to find a space in the calendar so all P Class sailors have the opportunity to compete for the reinstated Wihau Shield,” said Greg.
Some history on the Wihau Shield
The Rotorua Yacht Club first presented the Wihau Shield in 1942 for inter-club competition at their Easter Regatta from which five P Class sailors were selected. The Wihau Shield was a ‘change boat’ series held over five races where the sailors swapped boats and used each boat once. Highly rated by the sailors, they often listed a club other than their own on the entry form to avoid potentially missing out on selection.
In 1997 due to an algae bloom problem in Lake Rotorua, the organisers transferred the very popular Rotorua Easter Regatta to Labour Weekend. Because the P-Class North Island Championships were being held at the same time the Wihau Shield was suspended. In 1998, the Rotorua Yacht Club decided to permanently hold their annual regatta at Labour Weekend and the Wihau Shield contest died.
Previous winners include Craig Monk (twice), Ray Davies, Geoff Senior, Aaron McIntosh and Simon Cooke. Gary Smith (TYPBC) won the Wihau Shield three times over four years.