New Zealand’s major new yacht race – the A2B Ocean Race will share the start line with the iconic Two Handed Round North Island Race in 2014. This will see a combined race fleet of up to 60 yachts set sail from Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour on Sunday, 9 February.
The A2B Ocean Race is being established as a major annual event which will depart Auckland bound for Bluff via North Cape each year on the first Sunday after Waitangi Day. It has the support of Yachting NZ, and has already received support and financial input from Major Events NZ and Invercargill City Council.
Sean Langman’s ORMA 60 class trimaran, Team Australia one of four Australian entries who have lodged expressions of interest for the 2014 A2B Race - Kos Picture Source
The Two Handed Round North Island Race is held every three years, and was scheduled to start at a similar time as the A2B Race in 2014, when the organisers of each race decided to share the start line and create a huge sailing spectacle on the ninth of February next year.
The club in charge of the A2B Ocean Race is the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, while the Round North Island Race is being organised for the seventh time in 2014 by the Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand (SSANZ).
The Two Handed Round North Island Race holds a special place in New Zealand sailing, and sport in general. The late Sir Peter Blake and Martin Foster were the driving forces behind the establishment of the race, running the first edition with the Devonport Yacht Club. Sir Peter won that inaugural race with Graeme Elder. SSANZ took over the organisation of the race from the Devonport Yacht Club in 1996, and have continued to grow the event as New Zealand’s premier short-handed race.
The Chairman of the SSANZ, Cameron Thorpe has an extensive sailing background of over twenty years and won the 2005 Round North Island race on ‘Hard Labour’. He is excited at the prospect of sharing the start line with the A2B Ocean Race in 2014, saying – 'it is great to work together for the betterment of yachting. There are some good opportunities to work together on an in-port race prior to the start, and to promote the sailing fleets taking part in each race.'
Commodore of Royal Akarana Yacht Club, host club for the A2B race, Matthew Woodley looks forward to the two races setting sail on the Waitemata Harbour next February saying – 'The A2B race is extremely exciting. The race will inevitably be compared to the Sydney Hobart race and will undoubtly become New Zealand’s premier fully crewed coastal race. Royal Akarana Yacht Club is thrilled to be working with SSANZ to raise the profile of both events which complement each other perfectly and provide yacht racing fans a mouth-watering month of coastal sailing action.'
The race fleet for the A2B Ocean Race is limited to 30 boats in its inaugural year. Half of these boats are expected to be international entries, seeking the challenge of pitting themselves against the challenges of New Zealand’s coastal waters and the Southern Ocean. Several expressions of interest have already been received by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, and can be made through the race website – www.a2b-race.com.