ANZ Sail Fiji is set to go off with a bang when the racing fleet of 20 boats starts the 1,100 nautical mile race on Saturday 7 June at 1300 hours.
The Royal Akarana Yacht Club has a long history with racing to Fiji since the humble beginnings in 1956 with the first race to Suva. Since then the destination has changed, but the challenge is still the same - long days of ocean racing with the call of a tropical destination as the encouragement to battle on to the finish.
Catherine Woodley helming Steinlager 2 - ANZ Sail Fiji - Suellen Hurling
Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 is no stranger to ocean racing after winning each and every leg of the 1989/1990 Whitbread Race. 'Big Red' has had an action packed life after spending years abroad before finally coming home to Auckland in 2012. Since then, Steinlager 2 has been a regular on the Waitemata Harbour and now gives opportunities for those willing to get on board and to stand where the legend Sir Peter Blake once stood.
Catherine Woodley, one of the crew members is no stranger to yacht racing; however ANZ Sail Fiji will be her first major offshore race. As a part owner of the Davidson 42, Mr Roosevelt with her husband and Royal Akarana Yacht Club Commodore Matt Woodley, Catherine has spent the past 10 years cruising and racing the coast of the North Island. With the odd Coastal Classic, Round White Island and Gold Cup Series under her belt, Catherine thought it was about time to venture outside the safe coastal areas of New Zealand for the deep blue waters of the Pacific .
'The opportunity to be a crew member on Steinlager 2 was something that I couldn’t turn down. Matt and I were contemplating a cruising rally in Croatia however the opportunity of doing the race on Steinlager 2 was just too strong. We can go cruising any time, but sailing on Sir Peter Blake’s Big Red seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,' said Catherine.
'We have already spent some quality time on the boat doing a few rum races, and weekends’ away learning and training as a team. There will be 24 of us on board so not only will I get the chance to sail on a legendary boat, but will also get to see the faces of some of the younger crew doing the race for the first time as we head offshore which is ultimately what the NZ Sailing Trust is aiming to achieve, ' continued Catherine.
'As one of a handful of women doing the race this year, I can’t wait to experience the thrill of ocean racing that many of the guys sailing on other boats have already had the opportunity to enjoy.'
Steinlager 2 which is now safely secured within the NZ Sailing Trust has just undergone a six month restoration including a shiny new paint job for the glamorous red hull. She sparkles in the water like the beauty she is.
The best vantage points for the start of ANZ Sail Fiji will be on the harbour itself or high above on North Head. The start line will be set off Orakei Wharf like it has for the 21 races before it.
Trackers will be fitted the each of the boats with regular updates being transmitted by social media and the official website.