Hopai Sports Day returns
Organisers of a family sports day in the Marlborough Sounds are hoping mother nature plays ball this weekend after being washed out last year.
The 97-year-old Hopai Sports attracts about 1000 people to Crail Bay, in the Pelorus Sound, and has only been cancelled by the weather once in the past three decades.
The day, which doubles as a big family picnic and sports day, offers traditional events such as sack races and tug-o-war to boat racing, wood chopping and the Hopai He/She Man team race.
Organiser Mike Gerard, who now owns the land on which the event is held, says the format has barely changed in 100 years.
‘‘We still have all the traditional games, and it’s about people giving it go and having fun.’’ The annual event regularly attracts about 100 boats to the bay, along with plenty more people arriving by water taxi.
The family picnic is the centre of the day, around which there are various sports to take part in or watch.
While the idea is to have a bit of fun, the day can be quite competitive, Mike says.
‘‘In all the races the winners get locally made pottery cups, which are oneoff and are quite collectable, so there is a bit of competition around it.
‘‘The kids races always have large numbers. You don’t have to be an expert, except in the axe competitions, so everyone can give it a go.’’
The wood chopping contest was expected to attract some top New Zealand axe-men, Mike says.
The Hopai He Man team relay event will be another highlight of the day where teams of men and women compete in a 200 metre swim and 1 kilometre running race.
Fifteen-time winner Billy Hebberd was expected to return this year, Mike says.
Money raised from the day would go to Marlborough charities.
While everything is ready for the day, it was just the weather Mike was concerned about.
‘‘With the weather being unsettled we are pretty nervous. Hopefully the forecast for a good day will prove to be correct.’’
The event can be postponed to Sunday, should it rain.
Entry on the day is $5 for adults and free for children aged 12 and under. For more information search ‘‘Hopai Sports’’ on Facebook.
The boys’ sack race at the 2015 Hopai Sports Day in the Marlborough Sounds.