Tide turns for sports fishing club
Two years ago, the Hawke’s Bay Sports Fishing Club was swamped in debt and struggling to stay afloat as members abandoned ship.
The Ahuriri-based club was relying on sponsors just to pay its power bills and had resigned from the national Sport Fishing Council because it couldn’t pay its affiliation fees.
Even finding money to get winners’ names engraved on club trophies was a struggle.
But the club was thrown a lifeline in May 2015 when Napier City Council agreed to buy the boat ramp beside its clubhouse for $271,000 so it could clear its debt.
The deal meant club revenue that had been tied up servicing the debt could instead be spent on amenities for members, says club captain Neil Price.
‘‘We have replaced our old unreliable projector with a new one and a bigger screen for the members to enjoy. Membership has started to increase,’’ said Price.
‘‘For our competitions, we have tried to increase the prizes and found new sponsors who are keen to help us go forward. All our open competition entries have grown, especially our Ladies-only competition that has nearly got to 100 entries.’’
Also helping the club’s finances is a lease of part of its building to the Jandal Bar.
‘‘We realise we cannot survive as a fishing club only as only 10 per cent of our fishing members use our club regularly. Our membership is made up of 50/50 fishing and social members with some families having three generations in the club,’’ Price said.
Napier City Council’s 2015 decision to buy the ramp was not universally supported, with some labelling it a bailout for the club, a claim Mayor Bill Dalton rejected at the time.
The council’s property manager, Bryan Faulknor, said it had since spent just under $81,000 installing a barrier-arm, swipe-card, Eftpos and CCTV systems to manage access and payment for ramp use.
The ramp was ‘‘operating well’’ and had pulled in more than $24,000 in the 11 months from July last year, Faulknor said.
The Hawke’s Bay Sports Fishing Club building in Ahuriri, Napier, with the boat ramp.