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Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are regular free divers, often plunging into the ocean to check out marine life, but they took a dive with a difference yesterday. And it was one that scared them.

The four-time world and Olympic 49er champions joined a team of about 20 divers led by Ghost Fishing New Zealand to help clean up Okahu Bay, hauling rubbish up off the bottom of the sea floor. There were car tyres, lengths of chain, bottles, rope, fishing gear and pipes.

What they didn’t find, however, was much marine life.

“It’s literally barren,” Tuke said. “There’s a little bit of sea grass in close to shore but, once you get out a little bit, it’s just mud and lots of sedimentation which is pretty scary.”

A Unitec study a decade ago found only 500 shellfish per square metre in Okahu Bay. A healthy bay should support around 4500 shellfish per square metre.

Efforts are being made to address that, and Ngati Whatua Orakei have reseeded thousands of mussels in an attempt to re-establish the kaimoana and also clean up the water quality – a single mussel is capable of filtering as much as 350 litres of water a day.

Yesterday’s clean up of Okahu Bay brought together various groups in the community from the ghost divers, Sea Cleaners and Royal Akarana Yacht Club to the local iwi and concerned locals. It’s all part of a wider plan to restore the bay in an effort to make it a more attractive area for recreational users and somewhere to host major events, including December’s 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships in partnership with Hyundai New Zealand. 

Burling and Tuke will be gunning for a fifth 49er world title at the event but yesterday they were concerned citizens.

“Okahu Bay is where we’ve sailed the 49er from for years so we wanted to come down today just to help out,” Tuke said. “It’s a really good initiative where there are people from lots of different parts of the community.”

Burling added: “We have spent a lot of our lives above the water and we really enjoy being out there. We’ve known there have been big [environmental] issues for quite a while. The awareness and understanding that we actually need to do something is what’s driving us at the moment. It’s really cool to see how many people are getting on board with it.”

Ghost fishing

As many as 100 people joined in, with even more helping out onshore than in the water. Many took part in a beach clean, with scores of bags filled with rubbish.

Among those helping out was Nadia de Blaauw and her husband and two young daughters.

“The one thing that did really hearten me, is that people saw us picking up rubbish and they would stop and pick up some rubbish as well and pop it in our bucket,” she said. “Lots of people said, ‘thank you’.

“For me, it was great for awareness. If you do a little bit, then someone else will do a little bit and someone else will do a little bit. You can actually make a far bigger change just by doing a little bit.”

The team from Ghost Fishing New Zealand have been making a massive difference since their creation in 2014. Okahu Bay was relatively ‘clean’ compared to some of their dives – they once pulled 8000kg of trash out of Wellington harbour in one hour – and the organisation’s founder, Rob Wilson, had a simple message for the public.

“In New Zealand there tends to be an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality with the water so it’s important to show people what’s down there and then physically removing it,” Wilson said. “I would say to people, just be a bit more careful. Be mindful that anything that ends up on the roads ends up in the storm drains and goes straight to the oceans. Anything that drops off your vessel will stay there for an extended time. If you throw a bottle over, it will still be there in 12 years’ time.

“Today we found bottles, a lot of ropes, fishing gear, lengths of chain. It’s actually pretty clean. I see a situation like this as a real positive. This bay had a lot of vessels moored in it [previously] and you could tell they were responsible yachties because there wasn’t that much stuff that had been dumped over the side. We’ve found loads of batteries under yacht moorings in other places.”

It was a heartening morning to be involved, as the community rallied around to help clean up one of Auckland’s jewels, but also heartbreaking to think what else is in our oceans. Wilson summed it up well when he said: “It’s a bit of a love-hate thing. I hate the fact it’s in there but I love that we’re getting it out.”

The 49er World Championship is in Auckland from December 2-8, 2019.

Ghost fishing

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is famous for its stunning harbours and sailing culture. It is, without a doubt, a world-class racing and regatta destination.

The downtown competition venue offers quick and easy access to a vibrant city with a celebrated culinary scene, fantastic shopping, and dynamic arts and culture. As well as big city sophistication, Auckland also offers an incredible natural setting; beautiful beaches, volcanic cones, island getaways and expansive parks are never too far away.

Home to sailing champions and the highly anticipated 2021 Americas Cup, Aucklanders and New Zealander’s alike are proud of their sailing heritage. Here, the Championship will enjoy huge support from the public.

Auckland is looking forward to welcoming all athletes, teams and supporters of the 49er, 49er FX and Nacra 17 World Championships.

Discover Auckland

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We are pleased to let you know we have an app available for all competitors and supporters coming to Auckland to compete and for those following the regatta back home.

Please download for free from the app store, 49er FX Nacra

This will be continually updated as we have new information about the regatta.

The regatta app will be our main communication tool with the sailors at the event so be sure to read and take notice of any push notifications.


Entry is a 2 step process.

  1. use our manage2sail registration system to enter your racing information.
  2. proceed to the payment portal to pay for your entry fee. For clarity, the fees on the payment system will change over on the dates in the NOR, so non-payment prior to those dates will mean higher entry fees.

Notice of Race

Updated November 12 with Amendments 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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International Shipping Partner

Oceanbridge Shipping are the logistics experts when it comes to major yachting events in New Zealand. Having been in business for more than 37 years they have helped tens of thousands of competitors with all the logistics that goes with competing in regattas around the world.

From the 2016 youth sailing world championships and 2019 Tornado world championships in Auckland to the 2011 Optimist world championships in Napier, they have taken care of shipping for both competitors and regatta organisers. They are the main sponsors of the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta, which is this country’s premier Olympic and youth classes event, and also a major sponsor and supporter of Yachting New Zealand and other sporting events.

Oceanbridge will have a dedicated team to assist sailors competing in this year’s 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Auckland and can assist with international shipping, customs clearance, border security and trucking. Oceanbridge will have staff on the ground at the event to supervise unpacking and packing and will also handle general queries about shipping to make life easy for visiting sailors and teams. If you wish to ship your boats onward to Melbourne for the next regatta, or return home, they can help with it all.

Their dedicated Marine Team are passionate about boats, international sailors and shipping and best contact is:
Nigel  |  nigelb@oceanbridge.co.nz  |  +64 9 489 6070 (bus.)  |  +64 21 909 703

Where to stay

There is a range of accommodation close to the venue to suit all tastes and budgets. Popular choices are university summer accommodation, Air BnB and hotels or motels. Auckland city centre has approximately 11,125 accommodation rooms available from 5-star international hotels to budget-friendly lodges. There are a number of apartments available to rent and Auckland city centre has more than 2000 motel rooms.

We highly recommend considering university summer accommodation at AUT which should be available from approximately November 20.  See Wellesley Apartments. Use the event code 49erNacra when booking online. These 5-bedroom apartments are available for approx. NZ$51 (or 30 Euro) per night per bedroom . The rate will include the following:

  • Bedding, linen and towels
  • 5 bedroom Apartment with 2 bathrooms
  • Fully equipped kitchen, dining and living area
  • Communal areas on the ground floor, 
  • Wi-Fi
  • Tea/coffee making facilities in the Apartments
  • Towel change 2 x weekly (every 3-4 days)
  • Linen change 1 x weekly (if staying more than 7 days)

Group Bookings should enquire via: shortstays@clv.co.nz quoting the event code 49erNacra also to receive the appropriate rate.


Summer Stays is a public service provided by the University of Auckland offering large scale, cost effective accommodation in the heart of Auckland over the New Zealand summer. Vacated student king-single rooms with shared bathrooms are available to 49er attendees. Special rate of $70 per night (or approx. 40 Euro) including breakfast with a minimum of 7 nights stay and full payment at the time of booking is required. Use the booking code, 49ER19.

  • WiFi included
  • Bedding, linen and towels
  • Laundry facility at an additional cost
  • Reception manned 8am – 8pm
  • Lounge room with bi-folding doors opening onto a large deck with a barbecue
  • Two large study areas
  • Music room
  • Communal lounge area and basic kitchenette on each floor that is the centre of the two wings
  • Basketball court available just opposite the building

    Bookings should be sent through to summerstays@auckland.ac.nz or call 09 923 5678


If you want to rent a house Brendan at Goodwins is the best to contact, as he has many houses for Americas Cup of which some are available during the Worlds.


For any other assistance with accommodation, please contact regatta secretary Jude Eades (Auck49erNacraWorlds@gmail.com).



For early enquiries please contact: Jude Eades – Regatta Secretary Auck49erNacraWorlds@gmail.com

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To register for media accreditation for the 2019 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 World Championships, please complete this form: