Sailors blown away
A handful of teenage sailors had to be rescued last Wednesday after a fierce southerly wind scattered their dingy sailboats in front of Plimmerton Boating Club.
Twenty- five sailors from around Wellington, all about 13 years old, were lining up for a race in the annual Wellington Schools Regatta when a blast of wind at 3pm sent them in all directions.
‘‘They didn’t have much choice because the wind was so strong,’’ Plimmerton Boating Club manager Sandra Mcgill says. She estimates the wind rose from still to about 30 knots (55 kilometres an hour) in a few minutes.
There were 23 boats on the harbour, most manned by a single sailor, all small dinghies like Optimists, Starlings and Fevers, Ms Mcgill says.
A southerly was forecast but the morning had been windless, so the club allowed sailors on the water, she says.
‘‘It was expected but it wasn’t expected how it happened.’’
All sailors were wearing lifejackets and the club’s rescue boats were on hand to assist the sailors when the weather hit. Some needed towing back to shore, and some needed help to get their boats upright after being blown sideways, Ms Mcgill says.
A few of the teens washed up in Hongoeka Bay and were sheltered in the local marae until they were picked up.
Reactions among the sailors varied, Ms Mcgill says.
‘‘Some were a little bit freaked out but there were plenty of people helping. They were fine.’’
Others enjoyed the ride, she says.
‘‘ Some had some awesome speeds, in that wind. They were flying.’’
Help at hand: Rescue boats reach one of the sailors. Onlooker John Chipper said the fleet was scattered ‘‘like paper on the wind’’.