Gruelling Yacht Race To Start In Devonport

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Table_08 Feb. 10 16.48

Sailing around the North Island is a tough enough test, but a hardy bunch of souls are about to take it on two-handed – that is, with only two crew aboard yachts ranging in length from 8 to 18 metres.

The SSANZ Round the North Island two-handed yacht race starts from Auckland next Saturday (February 19), with an impressive 40 entries, the largest fleet since the inaugural running of the race in 1977. This 1200 nautical mile race, held every three years, is one of the most gruelling and exciting sailing events held in New Zealand.

Entrants will leave Auckland for Mangonui in Northland, then after a short stopover sail around Cape Reinga and down the west coast to Wellington. After a 48-hour break they sail up the Wairarapa coast to Napier for the final stopover, then around East Cape and across the Bay of Plenty to return to Auckland approximately two weeks later. The contestants will face a range of conditions, taking turns to sail and sleep.

The Round the North Island two-handed race was originally organised by the Devonport Yacht Club, after a young Peter Blake returned inspired by his experiences in the two-handed Round Britain race. Since being taken over by SSANZ (the Short-Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand) in 1996, the race has grown in popularity to the extent that this year’s race was fully subscribed months ago. This year entries come from Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, the Marlborough Sounds, the Bay of Islands and Tauranga, and include teams of brothers, husband and wife crews, and an all-female entry.

The frontrunners are expected to be the brand new Cookson 50 Akatea, sailed by Pete Geary and Rodney Keenan, Open 50 Andar (Evan Davies and Peter Davidson), and the refitted Ross 45 footer M1 (Craig Partridge and Dr Dave Austin). However, they will get a hurry-up from the ‘minis’, Shaw 9 Karma Police (Rob Shaw and Ben Costello) and Elliott 9 Overload (brothers Matt and Scott Randell), both of which may be small but are fast, light, purpose-built race boats with impressive track records. All will be hoping to beat the race record of a total elapsed time of 6 days, 16 hours, 8 minutes, set by the 15m Elliott design Primo in 1996.

The race start is at 2pm, Saturday February 19, off Devonport Wharf.

For more information, please contact Sarah Ell, 021 674 222, roundnorthisland2011@yahoo.com

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