Tide turns for sports fish­ing club

The Napier Mail - - KEEP WARM FOR WINTER - SI­MON HENDERY

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.

PHOTO: SI­MON HENDERY

The Hawke’s Bay Sports Fish­ing Club build­ing in Ahuriri, Napier, with the boat ramp.

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