The Queen Charlotte Yacht Club season opening day, held at the redevelopment site of the club in Picton, has given an insight into what will become a hub for the entire community.

The site was opened by Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith last month, and the traditional firing of the canon was held before visitors were shown what the finished building would eventually look like.

Stuart Smith MP opening the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club site

NZKS is a platinum sponsor of the project, and the club’s main function room will be called the King Salmon Ward Room.

Head of the redevelopment committee, Ian Gardiner, says their partnership with NZKS is “critical” and goes beyond just financial support.

“Because NZ King Salmon is such a well-known and respected brand in the Picton and Marlborough community, and a big employer, it’s provided a catalyst for other supporters to get on board. King Salmon’s sponsorship has given them, and us, a lot of confidence.”

The new building will be a multi-purpose community facility that opens up more beach space and increased car parking, says Ian. “It’s a big picture thing.”

Ian says the yacht club was built in the late 1930s but in the last few years “something has changed” in the environment and seawater was getting into the building regularly.

The new club will be lifted higher to avoid the water. Ian says a “nice beach” has formed under the site of the old building, which was previously rocks.

He expects the project to be nearing completion in about a year, in time for the summer regatta season. The new building will have a large viewing deck, and the existing boat sheds will be torn down.

NZKS business development manager Mark Preece has been a club member for three years but has a longer history with the building – including getting married there more than a decade ago. Now, his children take sailing classes at the club, in the Green Fleet and Rainbow Fleet.

Mark says the learn to sail programme is very valuable because it teaches children independence, problem solving skills and resilience.

The Oddies Spring Champs was a great example of this, says Mark, as boats were being blown over and, with their parents watching on the beach, sailors could do little but resolve the situation themselves using the skills they’d been taught.

“It’s a really great opportunity for the kids.”

NZKS was already a supporter of the yacht club before the rebuild began, such as buying sails for the Rainbow Fleet’s Optimists, says Mark.

“It’s a great example of King Salmon supporting these young kids, helping them find their sea legs.”

Mark says the yacht club building was clearly in need of an upgrade: “The dance floor was pretty flat when we got married there, now there’s a great big bow in the floor.”

“It’s really exciting seeing a modern new facility like this being built on the foreshore in such a prime location. It will be a great community asset and plenty of community clubs are going to be able to use it.”