by Zoe Hawkins
The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic starts in Auckland and finishes in Russell on Friday 25 October.
Team Australia, skippered by Sean Langman
Is it America’s Cup fever, or simply anticipation of summer sailing? Three weeks out from the start, the hundredth entry has already been received in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic Yacht Race.
The race - which is famous for its chaotic and colourful mass start off Devonport Wharf, is the spring ice breaker for an estimated 180 boats and 1,000 yachties each year.
It is 119 nautical miles long and depending on the boat you are on, can be a sprint or a marathon: it takes anything from sub six hours for the fastest boats, to more than 24 hours for the less performance oriented.
The finish line is off the historic Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands, and the sail up the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand is scenic and usually challenging.
The arrival in the town of Russell is marked with a party and terrific festivities.
Headline entrants include the giant trimarans TeamVodafone Sailing and Team Australia, rivaling each other for the first time in New Zealand waters, and Jim Delegat’s new 70 foot Giacomo, formerly known as Groupama, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, and likely to be the biggest entrant.
'We welcome Giacomo and Team Australia to the fleet for the first time, but the true heroes of the race are the boats owned by ordinary people, out there having fantastic adventures with family and friends,' says race spokesperson Matthew Flynn.
The mass start is a great spectacle that crowds enjoy from North Head
The boats race in eight race divisions categorised by size and speed. A chance to win an Audi A1 is one of the feature prizes, along with another $30,000 of technological and marine related gear from sponsors that include PIC Insurance Brokers, B&G, Jackson Electrical Industries Limited, Yachting New Zealand, Dirty Dog, Elf Oils, Musto, Mount Gay Rum, Railblaza, and PredictWind.com.
The race starts at 10am on Friday 25 October off Devonport Wharf in Auckland. Boat tracking, commentary, progress times, photos and video will be available from the race start on Event Website.
The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club. Entries close on Friday 11 October.