Supporting Tongan kids sailing

Great Escape is proud to be part of the Opua Business Association (OBA) team sending a fleet of Optimists (Optis) up to the Va’vau Bluewater School in Neiafu, Tonga.  Something we can do to share the joy and love of sailing and make a difference for the young people of Neiafu.

Practical local contributions

The OBA team has really pulled together, sanding, painting and reassembling seven Optis gifted from Kerikeri Cruising Club.  Local sailmakers co-operated to provide the sailcloth, cut and stitch the sails.  Hardware was donated and hull and sail sponsorship from OBA members paid the costs for new rigs.   OBA also organised fundraising with cruisers in Va’vau at the Blue Water Festival to raise funds to purchase a container.  The container will be used to not only to transport the Optis to Tonga but will then stay on the waterfront in Neiafu as a storage facility and base for the sailing school.

It’s been a labour of love for more than two years. There is just one piece of the puzzle missing, the funds to ship the container up to Va’vau. OBA intends to have a fundraising event as part of the Opua Cruiser’s festival in November and hopefully, after that the boats will be on their way.

This is a fantastic local initiative from businesses in the Bay of Islands, supported by international cruisers, all working together putting time, effort, and funds into supporting youth sailing development for one of our Pacific neighbours in one of our favourite cruising destinations.  It is a practical application of Great Escape’s commitment to sustainable Tourism, specifically Manaakitanga – showing respect, hospitality, generosity and care for others.

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