The 86th UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) General Assembly convened in Auckland in October 2013 to improve the sport of powerboat racing.

The country’s marine industry is internationally recognised for its skilled professionals and innovation and we see the General Assembly as a huge opportunity to not only share knowledge, but for potential investment and new business ventures.

Denise Moughan, New Zealand Powerboat Federation

Powerboat racing is a global sport featuring hundreds of races of varying disciplines in exotic locations each year. Its origins can be traced back to as early as the turn of the 19th century, when the British formed a Marine Motoring Association, the French held a 62 mile circuit race on the Seine, and New York’s Columbia Yacht Club formulated a constitution for what would eventually become the American Power Boat Association.

Powerboat racing has progressed over the years to a fast, competitive and highly exhilarating sport which New Zealand has excelled at. Kiwis have hosted numerous international powerboat events as well as officiating at top level around the world and having well-regarded safety and rescue teams. But its New Zealand’s renowned boat building skills and ingenuity coupled with good driving skills which have led to a number of Kiwi racers achieving World Champion status.

So when the New Zealand Powerboat Federation, with the help of Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme (CAP) fund, won a bid for The 86th UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) General Assembly in 2011 it was to be an opportunity for New Zealand competitors to learn first-hand skills from the heads of this sport. The UIM is the international governing body of power boating, presiding over all power boating disciplines including aqua bike, circuit, offshore, pleasure navigation and radio-controlled. The General Assembly is the focal point of the year for all national authorities and global promoters in the sport, providing the chance to share ideas to improve the sport at all levels.

Set in Auckland, known for its rich maritime heritage, the conference played host to 90 delegates and 55 partners and focused on key themes including safety, youth development, design and build, international competition and environmental. Organised by sports marketing company Acceleration on Water Event Management, seven days of meetings were held in the conference rooms of the Heritage Hotel.

In the lead up to the event many delegates holidayed in New Zealand first before joining the conference.  Outside of the meetings delegates were able to cruise Auckland Harbour, ferry to nearby Waiheke Island, or the more isolated Great Barrier Island, and hop a bus to check out some of the city’s tourist spots including a bungy jump of the Sky Tower and a shopping visit to outlet shopping mall Dressmart. Others took day trips to Rotorua for some Maori culture and mud pools, headed to the stunning Bay of Islands north of Auckland, or relaxed at the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula. Two couples even signed up for a 19-day tour of New Zealand.

Federation president Denise Moughan said it was very exciting to have the delegates in New Zealand for what was a long and well-planned for event. “The country’s marine industry is internationally recognised for its skilled professionals and innovation and we see the General Assembly as a huge opportunity to not only share knowledge, but for potential investment and new business ventures.” The conference resulted in new research, new opportunities for youth development and international competition, and more opportunities for women on board. But perhaps the most significant outcome was the possibility of more international events to be staged in New Zealand, which in turn will help to increase participation helping event organisers and competitors to gain vitally needed funding.

Ms Moughan overall the assembly was a great success. “The group enjoyed their stay in New Zealand and many didn't want to leave. They loved Auckland and New Zealand and we have had nothing but positive feedback from the delegates. There is also interest to include Auckland and New Zealand in a world series within our sport - something that we will work on for 2015.” All going well, it will mean a three year contract with the UIM.