Only six weeks out from the NZMYC Coastal Classic, we take a look at some of the new and notable boats likely to grace the fleet for the great race north.
Division One is going to welcome, for the first time, Kia Kaha to the fleet. Kia Kaha is the TP52 formerly known as Valkyrie, Lexus and Bigamist, and sailed by Russell Coutts and some of the then young breed of Team New Zealand sailors in 2005.
Opua residents Chris and Manuela Hornell (former owners of REVS and Blue Dude) imported the boat from San Diego in December last year.
Chris, who grew up in Russell, and now owns The Marine Centre in Opua, has competed in every single Coastal Classic that he can remember.
The crew were very satisfied with a top ten finish last month in their division at Hamilton Island Race Week in Queensland, placed third on line in Sail Noumea, and will be up against another veteran and former Coastal winner, the other TP52 V5. V5 is theoretically the quickest boat in the fleet and new owner David Nathan and crew now have a good handle on her to be getting a lot out of her most of the time, says race commentator, Mark Mulcare.
Joined by Wired, Mark Mulcare picks they could should make for a 'reasonable scrap' at the front end of the monohull fleet, although the speed of the canting keelers in a straight line could give them an advantage on the day.
Steinlager II, the 1990/91 Whitbread Round the World Race winner skippered by Sir Peter Blake, will also attract attention, and at 25.5m in length, really does have might on her side, especially in heavy windward conditions. Steinlager II was the first maxi ketch built in composite – a boat building material that is now considered standard in modern race yachts.
Mark Mulcare reckons that whether she'd compete against the three 50s, will depend on several factors, including the calibre of the crew. 'With a serious crew, maybe,' he predicts.
For three years, the thirty foot swing keeled Karma Police has given handicappers headaches and been one to watch. But Karma Police, and the similar Orbit, have now been sold offshore. Orbit is in Sydney, and Karma Police is enjoying fresh water sailing, in Detroit. That leaves just Deep Throttle, and Overload, to confirm if they will represent the 'giant slaying' micros in this year's event – although watch out for forty foot versions of these little terriers for the 2013 event.
Recent America's Cup activity has heightened excitement levels in the two multihull divisions, and recent America's Cup ideas are filtering down into the general fleet.
'One thing that sets our fleet apart from the AC though is that our boats have to comply with Cat 3 [safety rules] to race,' says Tim Willets, owner of the super-fast bright green reaching machine, Timberwolf. 'On a small multi like ours the weight of all the safety equipment is quite crippling to our boat's performance, but it is vital that we are all as self sufficient as possible.'
With Matt Flynn's super fast and ultra high tech cat thought to be losing the race for the 2012 start (but who knows!), TeamVodafoneSailing, which broke the sub six hour record last year, will probably lead the big multihulls, and the entire fleet for that matter, into Russell. Roger Pagani's Triple 888, and Taeping, will be hot on her tail. Taeping and 888 have both undergone foil development programs, fitting AC45 style assymetric foils, says Tim, that have given Taeping a big performance gain.
In the battle of the small multihulls, the new player of note, and the short priced favourite in Division 7 is tipped to be the Katipo called Ninja, a 10m version of an SL33 cat designed by local designer Brett Bakewell-White, and owned by Rodney Keenan, Richard Bearda, Pete Geary and John Miller. A light boat with an exceptional power to weight ratio, it is sailed by a talented and experienced crew, and will be brand new, and untested on the startline.
The Formula 28 cat, Charleston, sailed by Shane and Casey Bellingham is described as a 'blur' in light or moderate conditions and can frequently beat its much bigger rivals from Division 6. Borderline won the BMW Auckland Regatta on line and handicap and is considered the form boat, but Dirty Deeds will be sporting a new carbon wing rig that is just coming into tune at the right time. Dan Slater is freshly back from his Olympic sailing campaign and is resuming work on his super fast little trimaran, Frantic Drift.
The modified GBE called Hooters is now owned by a brother and sister team, and it will be Stealth Mission's maiden Coastal Classic. Stealth Mission will match up against sistership Lucifer that is owned by match race champion, Laurie Jury. Lucifer had a dramatic capsize in last year's race after breaking its prod at Cape Brett. Voom and Whio are wooden GBEs that are strong handicap prospects and it is hoped that Attitude, which holds the unofficial race record for the class, and Freedom will be contenders.
Adrian Pawson's Wild Thing is a smaller boat typical of the hard work and love that goes into nearly every single entry. Adrian's involvement with Wild Thing has encompassed many years, but his last attempt at the Coastal Classic was in 2007. The formerly zebra-striped boat was stored for three years while Adrian went on his OE but has been stripped back to bare glass, refaired, given a new transom, a keel stepped mast, a canting/protracting prod, and a new rig. Like a number of others, the Division 3 boat is racing just to make it to the startline – there is still a lot of work to do both for boat and crew.
'We need to have to have confidence in the boat and in our ability to deal with getting caught out in the dark in nasty conditions,' he says, aware of the immense responsibility he faces as owner and skipper. 'All going well, the Coastal will be our first chance to line up against the ditch boats and see if all the work has been worthwhile.'
Adrian's Dad, Colin Pawson, will be helm, and Adrian will be up the pointy end, joined by friends and their girlfriends. 'The social aspect is key for for us and Wild Thing must be a good fun boat for the crew to sail on,' he says.
While normally our Coastal Classic write ups try to thank and recognise the participants as much as possible, Adrian offered an accolade for the organising team: 'It's worth mentioning that the Coastal Classic is one of the key events in Auckland sailing,' he says. 'It's a credit to the NZMYC and the various sponsors. For sure they are doing sailing an ongoing favour, and I'm sure their dash to the start is far more epic than ours! Thanks to them.'
We say: good luck getting to the start line, to Adrian, and all entrants that are make or break right now.
For the second year in a row, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will host a cooked breakfast prior to the race start, and as always there will be great hospitality in the host township of Russell for race supporters and finishers.
The New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club Coastal Classic starts from 10am on Friday 19 October off Devonport Wharf in Auckland, and finishes off Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands. The race is 119 nautical miles in length and last year a new record was set by TeamVodafoneSailing, of six hours and 43 minutes.