What a month March was for boaties!

Festivals, yacht regattas, fishing tournaments and boat shows – March had them all, along with the sort of settled weather we so missed last year, allowing boating fans to fully enjoy them.

Kicking the month off was the St Arnaud’s Antique and Classic Boat Show on Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes district in the first weekend of March. The 24th edition of the show was a great success, billed by some international commentators as the greatest classic boat show on earth. It attracted hundreds of unique and interesting boats and thousands of visitors. See our feature on page 94.

Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour played host to a wide range of aquatic and marine-themed events during March as part of the Moana Festival Auckland, including the Millennium Cup, which was raced between superyachts around the islands of the Hauraki Gulf for the first time.

Moana Festival highlights included the Wooden Boats Festival in early March, which featured nearly 200 wooden vessels, power and sail, old and new, and the Auckland Boat Show in mid-March.


The Wooden Boats Festival drew thousands of visitors to Auckland’s Jellicoe Harbour, while the Auckland Boat Show a couple of weeks later was judged a great success by exhibitors and visitors alike. Boats were sold and deals were made.

Unlike the Wooden Boat Festival, which featured mostly older classic and antique boats, the Auckland Boat Show largely showcased new boats, along with a huge range of associated marine businesses and service providers. This happy contrast between events meant that there was something for every boatie.

Not new, but as good as new, the 2008 Salthouse 57 Opportunity III looked quite at home at the Auckland Boat Show, nestled between luxury new builds after her superb and comprehensive refit. She represents a growing trend among Kiwi boaters, some of whom are electing to refresh their old boats rather than buy new ones.

Opportunity III’s owners really pushed the boat out, sparing no effort to create a vessel that is arguably better than it was when new. See page 32 for the story.

In another March mega-event, the sold-out, three-day Kubota Billfish Classic, said to be the biggest billfish tournament in the world, kicked off on March 14 with a spectacular 420-boat shotgun start from Whitianga. Teams from all over New Zealnd and overseas competed for $1.5 million in prizes, enjoying great fishing for marlin weighing up to 250kg and more.

However, as I write, there’s no denying autumn has arrived, with cooler temperatures and the subtle change in light quality that always accompanies shorter days. Fortunately, autumn can provide superb boating and uncrowded anchorages, so let’s enjoy it.

Happy boating,


John Eichelsheim