February 2009 will mark one of the biggest months on the water that the Hauraki Gulf has yet seen. And at the centre of it all, amidst America’s Cup teams going head to head for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup, and the world’s most glamorous superyachts sailing for the Millennium Cup, is a regatta that is the jewel in the crown for Auckland’s yacht racing fleet.
The BMW Auckland Regatta, taking place from 20-22 February, is an intense three-day sailing event that seeks out national and regatta champions. In its second year, it is tipped to be one of the biggest sailing events in the country, and is almost certainly the most prestigious. Harking back to the days in the 1970s and 80s when New Zealand amateur sailing was at its strongest in terms of international profile, the BMW Auckland Regatta also qualifies one skipper and crew to sail off for the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the World Final of the BMW Sailing Cup in Italy in 2009.
The event will feature racing for keelboats, mulithulls and sportsboats in up to 17 divisions on the same courses, and will be one of the biggest fleets to congregate in Auckland, plus a social calendar that will be almost as intense as the racing. It is also the second of three events that constitute racing for the IRC National Championship title.
'The BMW Auckland Regatta was designed to give New Zealand sailors a prolonged and varied competition that is a true test of all-round sailing ability,' says Ross Markwick of the Auckland Regatta Trust, which is a joint-venture between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, designed to foster and promote racing in Auckland.
'New Zealand sailing is undergoing a mini renaissance – the fleet is very strong, very skilled, and consists of a great mix of new boats and decades old designs. This regatta puts all of these boats on the same racecourse over three days, competing in both close quarters racing and longer distance courses. It will test sailors, it will push limits, and it will be a fantastic spectacle for everyone involved.'
The BMW Sailing Cup is based on the successful model of the BMW Golf Cup, the world’s largest and longest running amateur golf tournament.
BMW Group Managing Director, Mark Gilbert, says that sailing is an iconic New Zealand sport and the BMW Auckland Regatta has quickly become a landmark event on the sporting calendar.
'Building on the success of last year’s hugely successful event, the BMW Auckland Regatta and BMW Sailing Cup have become the foremost competitive amateur sailing series in New Zealand,' said Mr Gilbert.
The event is already seen as an asset to the Auckland region:
'The sport of sailing draws attention to our beautiful harbours and coastal features,' says Mayor of Manukau Len Brown. 'There is no doubt in my mind that the region offers world-class facilities for sailors, and the BMW Auckland Regatta makes the most of our natural assets.'
BMW Auckland Regatta racing takes place from 20-22 February 2009, and is followed by the BMW Sailing Cup from 28 February – 1 March.
The event is sponsored by BMW, KPMG, Auckland City Council and Manukau City Council, and is further supported by North Sails, SeaSpray, BSP Design, Mount Gay Rum, Yanmar, OKI and Fullers. More information, including a Notice of Race, can be found at www.rnzys.org.nz