A lot can happen in 80 days, you can go around the world, or you can get on a boat for the ANZ Sail Fiji race!
The Royal Akarana Yacht Club race, starting on Saturday 7th June at 1300 hours, is set to be one of the largest offshore international events to leave New Zealand waters in over 20 years.
80 days out from the start we asked skippers what they are most looking forward to about the ANZ Sail Fiji race.
Andrew Reid – Django
“High speed day and night surfing down the long ocean swells in the trade winds of course! But most of all, the challenge and the camaraderie that this kind of race brings.”
Steve Henry – Iemanja
“The pure adventure of the race! Also, we are going shorthanded, so I’m looking forward to the one on one time with my Dad and son, they can’t escape me!”
Christiaan Arns –Notorious
“After the Two Handed Round North Island, I’m looking forward to racing with a full crew and to add a few degrees to the temperature each day! And I can’t wait to beat Outrageous Fortune!”
Gary Lewis – Akatea
“Well truth be told we are looking forward to representing Royal Akarana Yacht Club! After their 2012 Sail Noumea race, we were so impressed with everything they provided that we can’t wait to be a part of another one of their races.”
Laurie Needham – Lawless
“I did this race once before back in 1969 and was on board Concord. We finished second to Castanet overall on handicap. I’m really hoping to improve on the second place result from that race!”
Rob Bassett & Brett Russell – Wired
“Just going is enough for us!”
Quintin Fowler – Outrageous Fortune
“I can’t wait to beat Notorious! Hahaha! Seriously, I think it’s great there are going to be multiple divisions, so I can’t wait to race against boats the same size as Outrageous Fortune, it means we might make the podium! Oh and I can’t wait to swan around in Fiji!”
Sir Peter Blake’s famous ocean racing maxi ketch Steinlager 2 officially joined the entry list bringing the total number to 17 boats signing on to take the Fiji challenge.
RAYC Commodore Matt Woodley is one of the crew members selected to race on Steinlager 2 and is excited to be part of the 23 strong team.
“Sir Peter Blake is a hero of mine and I admire everything he achieved. I can’t wait to get onto the start line on board Steinlager 2 and compete in this race. Being on a boat that has such a strong New Zealand maritime history is a dream come true. My wife Cath is also a part of the crew racing in ANZ Sail Fiji which will make this race better than I could have ever imagined,” said Woodley.
The history of ocean racing in New Zealand is intimately related to the Royal Akarana Yacht Club.
With the introduction of the first trans-Tasman race in 1931, the 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 then 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.
Thus was born the Auckland to Suva race, which was regarded as one of the world’s classic yacht races. It was seen as a way to get yachts up to the Pacific Islands for several months of tropical cruising during the winter months in New Zealand. It was held for the first time in 1956 with 13 entries and it was popular from the start – so much so that in 1973 there were 70 yachts and in 1977 a record number of 117 entries were received.
Numbers like the 1977 race may be tough to match with the endless opportunities now available for ocean racing yachts, however Royal Akarana Yacht Club is confident they will reach 25 entries for this edition of the race.
When arriving in Fiji the competitors will be hosted by Port Denarau Marina and will receive a first rate Fijian welcome 24 hours a day until every boat is safely berthed in the Marina.
For more information regarding ANZ Sail Fiji please visit www.aucklandfiji.co.nz