Years of preparation will finally come to an end for the hosts of the World Masters Games as it kicks off next week, bringing with it the largest contingent of athletes and supporters to ever hit New Zealand for a sporting event.
The Games will be held at 48 venues across Auckland and Waikato, including the AUT Millennium facility, the Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre and the Trusts Arena.
It won’t all be focused on the bigger venues, however, with local clubs set to take part in the action as well.
Torbay Sailing Club commodore Blair Gerrard said hosting the sailing events had been “two or three years in the making”.
“We’ve built a new building throughout the year and the catalyst for that was the Masters Games, so we’ve got a big new clubhouse to put on display.”
Gerrard said the club hosted the youth world championships at the end of 2016, and being a part of the World Masters Games will be the “icing on the cake” for the summer season.
“We’re very happy. Yachting New Zealand approached us because they knew we could host an event of this size.
“There’s quite a bit of logistics involved with it, we’ve got 242 competitors at our site, we’re the longest-running event as well. We’ve got a good team of people here, it’s been a long process but we’re here at the end of it.”
The immense effort that has gone into ensuring the sailing runs smoothly has taken its toll on some club members, but Gerrard said all the work had paid off.
“We’ll be satisfied at the end. Some [members] are tired, there’s about four or five of us that have put in most of the graft and for about one or two it’s just about been a full time project for them plus doing their normal jobs. We’re all volunteers, none of us [was] paid to do it.
“World Masters have been good to work with, obviously they’ve got a lot of stuff that we have to adhere to.”
A world-class field is expected to compete for sailing glory, including former world champions and sailors with America’s Cup experience.
The advanced age of some participants brings unique challenges from a hosting perspective, Gerrard said.
“Because all the competitors are over 35 – our oldest competitor is 85. So there’s other things to consider when you’re dealing with people that age.”
North Shore Squash Club manager Sharon Crawford said being part of the Games had also encouraged a bit of a spruce-up at her club.
“We’ve tidied it up and done quite a bit of work, redone our lounge. We’ve got the most amazing view of Lake Pupuke, it’s a million-dollar view.
“We’re looking fantastic, we’re ready to go, let’s do it.”
The club will host 430 players from 18 different countries on its seven courts, and Crawford said club members have been quick to offer to get stuck in and help out.
“Everyone’s coming up – they want to help, they want to be involved. The club’s just embracing it.
“I’ve got people that are working around so they can play their game of squash and compete at the Games and then volunteer and help do things as well.
“The club’s absolutely buzzing at the moment about what’s about to happen.”
Carlton Cornwall Bowling Club will be the headquarters of the lawn bowls competition, with hosting to be shared with the Remuera Bowls Club and Mt Eden Bowling Club.
Vice-president Jeanette Sinclair is excited to show the club off to international visitors, some of whom have arrived ahead of time to get extra practice in on the greens.
“The club is looking very spick and span, we’ve had the window washers in, the greenkeeper has been preparing the greens for weeks and weeks and the greens are looking pristine. It’s all under control.”
She said sharing the hosting of the bowls competition with two other clubs was a “unique situation”.