It might be New Zealand’s oldest yacht club but the Nelson Yacht Club (NYC) has adopted a progressive approach to the way it does things to ensure membership numbers remains healthy. In February NYC was voted the Aon Club of the Month.

“We’re a very vibrant club,” says commodore Geoff Pitcaithly. “You wouldn’t go down there any day of the week and find nothing happening.”

In February this year the club hosted its first international event, the Flying Dutchman Worlds. It fielded 40 teams, including 10 from New Zealand. It’s the third time the FD Worlds has been held in this country in the class’ 62-year history. The Nelson club boasts New Zealand’s biggest fleet of Flying Dutchmans.


There’s confidence that the club’s numbers will continue to swell, and that’s attributed in part to the way it tackles its Learn-to-Sail programme.

The club contracts Nelson Watersports Ltd to run the programme and also offers tasters, social sailing and more advanced courses. It’s an arrangement that has been working well for the past five years and has helped Nelson maintain its membership base of about 350. The club also works closely with another group to run a team-racing event and hosts a popular Sailability programme every second weekend.

“It takes pressure off us and is working well for us,” says Pitcaithly.