It all started back in 1956 when a bunch of sailors from the Royal Akarana Yacht Club decided to race to Fiji, the rest they say, is history.
With the introduction of the first trans-Tasman race in 1931, Royal Akarana Yacht Club became the founder of blue water offshore racing in New Zealand and no other club has done more to foster this type of racing.
In 1951 the club added the White Island Offshore race to its program to encourage its sailors to venture further beyond the Hauraki Gulf without having to leave New Zealand waters.
The club was now home to many deep water yachtsman who were keen to experience new adventures and challenges and to meet this need the committee decided that a race north to the Pacific Islands would fit the bill.
In 1997, the race to Fiji was sent to the western side of Viti Levu for the first time. The yachts finished just inside the Momi Passage and they then were accommodated in a partially developed new marina at the Denerau Resort. The race has finished at Denerau a further 3 times and in 2006 the host location was the Vuda Point Marina at First Landing.
The year 2000 race was riddled with controversy – It abandoned at the request of the RT Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, due to the first Fijian Military Coup led by Colonel Sitaveni Ramuka. The majority fleet returned to New Zealand, whilst some altered course and headed to Noumea. A handful of boats continued to Fiji under their own authority.
Now the race takes the fleet to Denarau. The boats are safely berthed at Port Denarau Marina once they finish and are well accommodated by the locals.
Today, 12 yachts and two multihulls will start ANZ Sail Fiji, the 1,100 nautical mile race from Orakei to Denarau. The forecast for the start is very light, but it is set to be a quick race with both Team Vodafone Sailing and Giacomo looking to finish bettie than the record of 3 days, 20 hours, 49 minutes and 36 seconds set by Beau Geste in 2014.
Follow the race: