OKI 24 Hour Race to get underway at 2 p.m. this Saturday

Overall Winners in the 2008 OKI 24 Hour Yacht Race are (left) Michael Bullot of Murrays Bay Sailing Club and Jason Geale of Pupuke Boat Club.
One of New Zealand’s most unique yachting events – the OKI 24 Hour Race will get underway at 2 p.m. this Saturday (28th March) at Auckland’s Lake Pupuke.

Run by the Murrays Bay Sailing Club (MBSC) the OKI 24 Hour Race requires competing teams to sail non-stop in rotating shifts for a period of 24 hours in Laser class boats.

Murrays Bay Sailing Club Rear Commodore, Sean McDonald, said the race requires competitors to run down the banks of Lake Pupuke and jump into their boats in a Le Mans style start.

'Under the Race rules, each team member can sail for a maximum of three hours before they are required to rest for a minimum of one hour.

'Crew members embark and disembark from their yachts from a pontoon positioned on the Lake. Ultimately, the winning team is the one that completes the most number of laps within the 24-hour period.'

Sean said a wide variety of entrants will be racing in one of four categories - Open Class, Youth (under 19 years), Women’s, Masters (over 35 years) and a Junior Youth Interclub Challenge (under 17 years).

'Crews are made up of two competitors per boat, except for the Masters and Women’s divisions where they can have three team members, and the Junior Youth Interclub Challenge where they can have a minimum of four members.

'Each team has to provide their own boat which will be aligned with a sponsor.'

This year, there will be an additional ‘6 hour race’ for kids aged 9-13 years which will run from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the Saturday.

'Competitors will compete in optimist dinghies, plus there will also be a Le Mans-style start for this grade.'

Sean said funds raised from the event, which has been running since the 1960s, are used by the Murray’s Bay Sailing Club for youth coaching.

'The Race is for a great cause – up-and-coming young talent - and we have had excellent support from a wide range of organisations and the local community.'

'In the past the ‘24-Hour Legends’ boat has been crewed by previous winners of the Race, top New Zealand sailors, and ‘up and coming’ Murray’s Bay Sailing Club P and Starling class sailors.'

'This year is no exception. Always hotly contested for crew spots on the Legends boat, we have Leslie Egnot who most people will remember as ‘the first lady of the Americas Cup’. Leslie skippered Bill Koch’s boat Mighty Mary in the America’s Cup and reached the challenger final, where she pushed Dennis Conner all the way in an exciting series.'

Also sailing the Legends boat at the OKI 24 hour will be Ray Davies, Tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand and Dan Slater, one of New Zealand’s top Olympic sailors.

'As with other years, we will have surprise visits by New Zealand’s top sailors during the course of the 24 hour OKI event who will ‘do their time’ on the Legends boat.'