In less than a month the cannons will fire for the Royal Akarana Yacht Club’s 22nd race to Fiji, ANZ Sail Fiji.
The entry portal has now closed but with less than 150 minutes before the deadline, ANZ Sail Fiji received it’s 20th racing fleet entry in the form of the TP52, Kia Kaha. Excitement is brewing with a race that’s looking to be the most hotly contested offshore event to leave New Zealand since 2005.
Within the overall line honors battle, there are a group of yachts who will be going hammer and tongs to get one over on their fellow sailors.
There are five ‘Nifty Fifties’ entered so far for the ocean classic.
V5 (David Nathan) is a modified, canting keeled Andrew’s TP52. With past line and handicap wins in the 2012 Auckland to Noumea and the 2013 Auckland to Fiji race, they will again be looking to sit at the top the pile come Fiji Bitter time.
Seasoned campaigners, Rob Bassett and Brett Russell are also up for the challenge aboard ‘Wired’, a 2006 NZ built Bakewell White 52 canting keeler. Bassett and Russell are no holiday passage makers so look to the front of the pack when tracking them on yellowbrick tracking page of the ANZ Sail Fiji website.
A new boat to the Auckland scene over the past season is that of Vamos (Connel McLaren) – a Judel / Vrolijk TP52. She was originally built in New Zealand but has spent the better part of her racing life in Australia competing in numerous inshore and offshore series up and down the coast including the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
Akatea (Gary Lewis), another well known yacht on the Auckland racing scene is set to give the V5, Wired and Vamos a run for their money. Racing under the Royal Akarana Yacht Club burgee, this Cookson 50 (lift keel) has already had plenty of offshore practice with Auckland to Noumea, two handed Round North Island (NZ) race and a Rolex Sydney to Hobart. She will definitely be hot on the heels of the others!
And now there is Kia Kaha amongst this mix. The Bay of Islands local, and regular traveller to the Auckland scene is no stranger to offshore racing after competing in the challenging 2012 Auckland to Noumea race. Look out for Kia Kaha as she and her regular crew challenge the rest of the Nifty Fifty fleet for the battle of order all the way to Denarau Island in Fiji.
At the close of entries there are 20 in the racing fleet and two cruising boats. The high performance racing fleet will start their 1,100 nautical mile challenge at 1300 hours on Saturday 7 June from the traditional starting area off Orakei Wharf with the two cruisers heading off from Monday 2 June from the Bay of Islands location of Opua.
Trackers will be fitted the each of the boats with regular updates being transmitted by social media and the official website.
Wade Lewis from Akatea at the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Media conference - John Curnow ©