November 27, 2022

Sea sports clubs cautious about marina master plan

Sea sports groups have broadly welcomed Nelson City Council’s marina masterplan which will give the…

Sea sports groups have broadly welcomed Nelson City Council’s marina masterplan which will give the clubs some much-needed breathing room, though a few lingering concerns remain.

Alongside a potential site for a new sea sports facility, the marina plan includes several projects to be completed over the next 10-15 years including a waterfront promenade, a pocket park, premises for a café, a dedicated fuel pier, as well as a reconfiguration – and planned future extension – of the marina, and long-term plans for a dry stack facility.

The proposed new sea sports facility would replace the existing building on Cross Quay which was built in the 1980s and houses the Nelson Rowing Club, the Iron Duke Sea Scouts, and the TS Talisman Sea Cadets.

Nelson Rowing Club coach Tim Babbage said he loves rowing for the freedom it gives him, but he also enjoys seeing the confidence develop in the teenagers he coaches.

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“The personal growth they get is quite inspiring.”

Babbage represents the Sea Sports Alliance, a group of water sports clubs who collectively have more than 1000 members.

The allied clubs include the Nelson Rowing Club, the Iron Duke Sea Scouts, the TS Talisman Sea Cadets, the Nelson Canoe Club, the Nelson Surfski Club, the Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club, Te Tai O Aorere Tasman Bay Outrigger Canoe Club, and the Whakatū Marae Waka Ama Club.

“Water sports have gotten more popular,” Babbage said, and mentioned that a club member had used the building on Christmas Day.

“There’s always someone using the facilities.”

But the clubrooms have not grown alongside their memberships which is limiting the clubs from reaching their full potential.

“It’s now at the stage where we’re running out of space,” Nelson Rowing Club president Grant Wilson said.

A new facility is currently slated for the end of Akersten St, but there are concerns about the exposed boat ramp.

Supplied

A new facility is currently slated for the end of Akersten St, but there are concerns about the exposed boat ramp.

He supports the masterplan’s provision of a new sea sports facility, currently slated for the end of Akersten St.

“It would be great for water sports. It would help water sport users and attract more water sport users into the Haven, which I think is a great water space.”

Group leader of the Iron Duke Sea Scouts, Peter Westpahl agreed with Wilson on the need for more space but highlighted the need for any future sea sports facility’s boat ramp to be sheltered.

“When the waves and the wind kick, the way they were launching just out into the Haven could have been problematic for kids trying to recover boats.”

Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club committee member Robyn Dewson echoed Westpahl’s concerns and said the current proposal isn’t practicable for the club.

“We want a safe launching ramp that’s fit for our needs,” she said.

Dewson clarified the club was supportive of the goals of the masterplan and a new proposed facility but wanted to make sure it was executed safely and effectively so it met the needs of the clubs.

“The idea is great, love the idea,” she said. “But let’s make sure it’s the right type of facility.”

Marina manager Nigel Skeggs said a new sea sports facility would be “a fantastic opportunity for Nelson” but acknowledged that what was outlined in the masterplan is not the end of the matter.

Nelson Rowing Club president Grant Wilson said they're running out of space in the current building.

LDR/Supplied

Nelson Rowing Club president Grant Wilson said they’re running out of space in the current building.

“We accept it’s not the absolutely perfect location, there’s still work to be done to make sure it’s safe for everybody to use,” he said. He added that the safe launching and retrieval of vessels and the safety of participants were at the forefront of submissions made by sea sports users and have been noted by council.

“All water sports clubs had safety concerns with the proposed boat ramp as drawn,” Nelson Rowing Club’s Wilson said. “We’re pleased this feedback has been taken on board.”

The location at the end of Akersten St has been approved by Nelson City Council in principle, subject to further studies determining the launch site’s safety in most weather conditions, along with the safety of the land and buildings on-site.

The new sea sports facility is one of several projects in the masterplan that will require discussion, negotiation, and agreement with Port Nelson and will be subject to further community consultation.