by Ivor Wilkins
Mike Drummond’s Extreme 40 sailing off Stanley Bay
The 2012 BMW Auckland Regatta will see a number of boats new to the New Zealand fleet competing in a range of divisions. With 85 yachts across 12 divisions, this is the largest fleet competing in what has become New Zealand’s premier regatta.
For the out and out speed merchants, interest will focus on the Open Multihull Division, where Simon Hull’s giant trimaran Team Vodafone Sailing is expected to set the pace.
On handicap, though, the battle will heat up with America’s Cup designer Mike Drummond bringing his Extreme 40 catamaran XL into play. The Extreme 40 circuit is renowned for its tight battles and occasional acrobatics, so spectators might be in for some drama.
'We have had the boat here for about a month,' said Drummond. 'We have done a few Wednesday night races, but nothing in strong breezes. We are happy with the way it is going so far. Basically, we are just about sailing with family and friends, but it is another stepping stone to growing the multihull fleet in Auckland.'
TeamVodafoneSailing hits warp speed - Coastal Classic - 2011
The A Division keelboats have a dozen high quality entries. Ray Haslar’s Reichel Pugh 42, Rikki, has been in the water nearly a year, but has missed out on major competition for a number of reasons. The scarlet boat from the Bay of Islands will come up against stiff competition with the new Ker 40 Ice Breaker owned by Connel McLaren starting to hit her straps.
In the right conditions, Graham Matthews’ 16.8m Botin and Carkeek racer/cruiser Equilibrium should also be among the big boat front runners.
Also from the Bay of Islands is the TP52, Kia Kaha, while most of the established Auckland yachts, such as Jim Farmer’s Georgia One, Rob Bassett’s Wired and V5, now owned by David Nathan will be doing battle.
The 8.5m multihull class always provides plenty of action and, once again, is using the BMW Auckland Regatta as its national championship as are their larger sisters in the Open Multihull Division.
Equilibrium racing in the 2011 Coastal Classic
Similarly the Young 88s, with nine entries, never fail to deliver anything but top quality racing and it would be a brave punter who ventured a bet on the outcome.
The Lion Foundation Squadron Youth Training fleet are coming out en masse in the Elliott 7s and, for the first time, there is a division for sport boats with seven entries.
The Farr MRX fleet is also racing in its own division and has attracted an international entry in the form of a crew from the Sandringham Yacht Club in Australia.
Both C and D divisions will have strong competition, seeing who can line up to secure their podium places.
The 2012 BMW Auckland Regatta is jointly run by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Bucklands Beach Yacht Club. Racing starts on Friday. Saturday sees the fleet race hard all day and then relax ashore on Motuihe Island for the Steinlager Beach Party. The regatta finishes on Sunday with the scenic passage race round the islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf.