There are hundreds of sailing events on the annual calendar of yachting for Auckland, but only one is focused on three days of intensive racing, culminating in prestigious amateur titles for its victors.
That is the Auckland Regatta, to take place from 22-24 March 2013. Now in its sixth year, the Auckland Regatta is hosting not only the Pacific Keelboat Challenge, but also four national championship events, and approximately 14 different divisions.
'The format has proven very popular within the yachting world,' says spokesperson Ross Masters 'Sailors have really taken to it, they enjoy the full sailing calendar, the fact the rivalry is intense on the water, and the socialising is great in the evening.'
He says the fact it is based in Auckland means sailors can go home at night, and don't need to take the time to deliver their yachts further afield. The Steinlager Beach Party on Motuihe Island is a drawcard too.
'The three day format means that in any division, you know you have raced hard over three days and come away with a result in the regatta that reflects your position in the fleet. There are not many opportunities for that type of intensity and fun.'
This year the Auckland Regatta will play host to the Open and 8.5 Multihull National Championships, the Elliott 5.9 National Championships, and the Farr 1020 National Championships .
'Each of these is a grass roots class that is very competitive and attracts a high calibre of sailor.'
The Elliott 5.9, for example, is a 30 year old keelboat design that can be purchased for well under $10,000. Reigning champion Cameron Horn will be facing off against the likes of Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson, Simon Manning, and other national level sailors.
The innovative and speedy Open 8.5 multihulls now number in the dozens and the Farr 1020 cruiser racer has always enjoyed a strong fleet at its nationals, dominated by excellent sailors.
Four international clubs have signed on for the Pacific Keelboat Challenge, in Farr MRX yachts. The clubs are the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (Melbourne), the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, (Sydney), Sandringham Yacht Club (Melbourne), and the Le Cercle Nautique Caledonien (New Caledonia). Ten identical boats will race, in a true regatta format, and the event has been designed and promoted by Tom Macky of MRX Yachting.
The very best of amateur sailing will be showcased in a number of other divisions, based on PHRF handicap or IRC rating, and divisions for Elliot 7s, Stewart 34s, and Young 88s. The Lion Foundation Squadron Youth Training fleet will race en masse in the Elliott 7s, bringing the total tally to well over 100 boats.
A cruising division has also been suggested for those that do not wish to use spinnakers or gennakers.
The 2013 Auckland Regatta is jointly run by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Bucklands Beach Yacht Club. The three days of racing commences on Friday 22 March, includes a scenic passage race around the islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf, and social activities include the much anticipated Steinlager Beach Party on Motuihe Island, as well as a prizegiving at the RNZYS.
Sponsors and supporters are PIC Marine Insurance, Mount Gay Rum, Yachting New Zealand, and Steinlager.
The Notice of Race and Entry Form are posted on the Auckland Regatta website, www.aucklandregatta.co.nz, and the first entries include the Elliott 5.9, BRZO.
by Zoe Hawkins
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11:03 AM Mon 11 Feb 2013GMT
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