5th Annual Great Escape WOW (Women on Water) weekend – another successful year

Great Escape WOW is a popular way for women to participate in a sailing event in the beautiful Bay of Islands. This year we had ten boats and over 40 women heading out for a weekend of unlimited laughter, plenty of sunshine, some serious and some not so serious sailing.

Participate with little or no experience

The experience in the fleet included round the world racers, ocean cruisers, coastal and inshore sailors, dinghy sailors, those with little or no sailing experience and even a woman who had never been on a boat before. Sailors are encouraged to stretch themselves just a bit. For some this means stepping up to the role of skipper for the first time, for others completing successful “winch-handle” overboard manoeuvres, for some taking a turn at the helm and learning the basics of sail trim is a new challenge. The objective is to make is easy for women who want to sail, to come together to share, and learn, in a safe, fun, environment.


Friday night we held a welcome event at the Opua Cruising Club, skippers, boats, and crews are allocated.  We spend the eveing laughing constructing newspaper masts and playing word games getting to know everyone. Although, being the 5th Great Escape WOW, there was a lot of hugging and greeting of old friends, many of the sailors are on their third or fourth or even fifth WOW.



Saturday morning dawned with clear blue skies and enough wind for sailing. The flotilla nearly all got away on time then headed down the Veronica Channel, through both sets of channel marks, around Brampton Buoy and Paramena Reef to finish up in Otaio Bay on Urupukapuka Island. Where we shared a delicious feast ashore with our fun prizegiving.


Some of crews managed to get up early Sunday morning for the meteorite shower. Later we all met ashore for a walk and chance to appreciate the beautiful birdsong on the island. (Thanks to Project Island Song’s successful mahi)
By late morning anchors were hoisted and the flotilla was underway. However the sail home was a little slow and many resorted to the iron spinnaker. Singing could be heard across the water and a few boats even had dancing on the deck! Safely back at the Great Escape Dock in Opua old friends and new friends swapped contact details and shared promises to be back again next year. The comments from participants shared on Facebook and Instagram illustrate the fun we had.

“Still buzzing over the amazing weekend we had!!”
“Such a glorious weekend. WOW in so many ways.”
“Whoop whoop, thanks Julie for another fabulous WOW weekend. They just keep getting better.”

If you want to participate next year keep an eye on the Great Escape Facebook page or sign-up for our newsletters.

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Burnsco Opua and Seaglass Pacifica for the WOW prizes.

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