On the 5th and 6th of March classic boat enthusiasts from across the Nelson/Marlborough region and beyond descended on Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park to the saviour the atmosphere of the Nelson Lakes Classic Boat Regatta. The gorgeous weather, gentle lakeside breeze, local wine, homemade lemonaide and gourmet sausages helped to guarantee the success of the day.
The classy wooden boats were chaperoned by equally classy people – the men complete with boating jackets and hats reminiscent of Hemmingway and the women adorned with finery of yesteryear. For the Department of Conservation staff in the Nelson Lakes area the day not only presents a great opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere but also presented a great opportunity to raise the profile of aquatic hitchhikers and the role that boaties play in helping to ensure that the Nelson Lakes retain their recreational opportunity.
Green dot stickers were used as great way of raising the profile of aquatic hitchhikers at the Regatta. The stickers complemented the information about aquatic hitchhikers that was included in the registration pack that was posted out to each competitor. Inspection of boats for aquatic hitchhikers was introduced to the regatta last year following growing concern about the threat of aquatic pests to the lakes from the surrounding regions. The hitchhiker check was a simple extention of the safety and oil leak checks that have have been in place for several years.
DOC staff and regatta organisers checked every boat for waterweed while they were on display and attached a dot to the entrant numbers on the boat. Once the races were underway competitors were only allowed to launch from the boat ramps once stickers were sighted by the event organisers. A DOC stall at the regatta featured information about aquatic hitchhikers and a recently released DVD which shows the native freshwater communities that are found in the lakes, the threats posed by aquatic hitchhikers and the national stop the spread symbols.
The weekend was a great success all around.