Buoys will be buoys on the water
Sailing fans watching the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series out on the Waitemata Harbour are in safe hands.
Course marshal and rear commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Steve Burrett is charged with keeping spectator boats away from the racing.
The squadron is helping run the event along with Emirates Team New Zealand and the Auckland City Council.
he central city resident says it can be a huge challenge, but he’s used to it after holding the same role during the America’s Cup regattas in 2000 and 2003.
“I think the public this time around have paid more attention to what’s required,” he says.
“But you’ve always got 5 percent who haven’t read the newspaper to know that it’s on, so sometimes you get people pulling right across the race track.”
His job is also complicated by ever-changing weather conditions.
“One day we set and reset the course 10 times. You’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head.”
He heads a 40-strong team of volunteers who patrol the harbour on 11 boats.
All have taken time off from their jobs to work at the event, including Burrett, who works in insurance.
But despite spending up to 12 hours a day on the course coordinating everyone’s moves, he says it’s an immensely satisfying role.
“It’s just nice being afloat. I’ve got to get my fix of being out in the boat.”
And he’s noticed positive relationships developing between all the teams at the event, which hasn’t always been the case in the past.
“In Valencia at the America’s Cup you never saw teams mixing like this.
“They’re all talking to each other and it’s really fantastic.
“It has to do good for the sport.”
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Scott Colebrook is pleased to have Burrett looking after people’s safety.
“He’s an extremely good seaman who is able to make judgement calls and decide where people should and shouldn’t be.”
The finals take place today and tomorrow with Team New Zealand defending the Pacific Series trophy.
Safety first: Louis Vuitton Pacific Series course marshall Steve Burrett helps keep yachting spectators safe on the Waitemata Harbour.