Slower conditions forecast for Auckland to Russell race
Longer, slower conditions forecast for Auckland to Russell race
An uphill slog is on the cards for the 170 entrants in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic this Labour Weekend, but no dramas are expected on the high seas.
The fleet, which starts the race off Devonport Wharf in Auckland, and finishes off Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands, is expected to encounter North-West winds of 17-21 knots at the start. A weak front may pass over the race course on Friday evening, after which the breeze will lighten off and move West and then South-West on Friday night.
That means almost no chance of a record, but it does give the boats that excel at upwind sailing the first opportunity in five years to show their stuff.
According to PredictWind.com, the extreme trimarans TeamVodafone and Team Australia are expected to finish in between 7.5 and 8.5 hours. TeamVodafone has finished in less than six hours for the last two years, and holds the race record of five hours and 41 minutes.
The big trimarans, nicknamed ‘Big Red’ and ‘Big Bird’ respectively, should maintain speeds of 17 or 18 knots for most of the course, and will reach peak performance on the final leg to Russell when the wind angle frees up lets them take off. The sea state is likely to be good, and all going according to plan, the boats will arrive in Russell in the early evening.
The smaller multihulls will look for every opportunity to get a better wind direction and more of it, taking about ten hours to finish.
For Jim Delegat’s Volvo 70, Giacomo, a new import to the country, and gearing up for the famous Rolex Sydney to Hobart in December, the race will take between 11 and 12 hours, and the boat will maintain consistent averages of 10-15 knots to achieve this.
PredictWind.com says that a mid sized cruiser-racer like a Young 88, will probably finish in about 19 hours. For these entrants the breeze will lighten off significantly after midnight Friday to about 5-7 knots, making for a slow but steady pre-dawn arrival in Russell. Being an upwind race, the lighter keelboats of a similar size and designed for off wind speed, will take a similar amount of time.
Even an AC72, if one was entered, would finish the race just outside of record time, according to PredictWind.com.
“The conditions mean the battle for line and handicap honours are going to be fierce amongst a different set of boats than we’d see in a Southerly race,” says race spokesperson Matthew Flynn.
“We wish everyone a safe journey and lots of fun.”
The spectacular mass start for the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is off Devonport Wharf at 10am on Friday 25 October.
The boats race in eight race divisions categorised by size and speed. A chance to win an Audi A1 is one of the feature prizes, along with another $30,000 of technological and marine related gear from sponsors that include PIC Insurance Brokers, B&G, Jackson Electrical Industries Limited, Yachting New Zealand, Dirty Dog, Elf Oils, Musto, Mount Gay Rum, Railblaza, and PredictWind.com.
The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club. Boat tracking, commentary, sked times, photos and video will be available from race start on www.coastalclassic.co.nz.
TeamVodafone – Holder of the overall record,
the mighty red trimaran owned by skipper Simon Hull is so
far unrivaled in New Zealand and will seek to better her
blistering run in 2012 with tactics, boat speed, and good
luck on the weather front. This is TeamVodafone's fourth PIC
Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic to date.
Team Australia - TeamVodafone’s biggest, and nearly identical, rival, racing the boat in New Zealand for the very first time. Skippered by Sean Langman, the extreme multihull is here to set an official Trans Tasman crossing speed record, and to face off against TeamVodafone in her own waters. TeamAustralia set a ratified speed record for sailing the famous stretch of water between Sydney and Hobart and has been expertly prepared for this race.
Taeping –Taeping, a 13.5m catamaran, is owned by Dave Andrews and is continuously updated and improved. Taeping won the 2007 and 2008 events, placing third last year. Taeping is more than capable of hanging on to the Orma 60s downwind, but upwind the bigger boat can be twice as quick.
Giacomo - An exciting new entrant because it is arguably one of the most high tech monohulls in existence, this 70 foot boat, formerly known as Groupama, won the last Volvo Ocean Race and is now renamed Giacomo, after the grand fathers of its new owner, Jim Delegat. The crew are using the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic to prepare for the upcoming Rolex Sydney to Hobart in December.
Georgia – Big and beautiful, the 52’ Botin Carkeck designed Georgia is owned by Jim Farmer, and her return to New Zealand and challenge for Coastal Classic honours, is very much welcomed by the fleet of big keelboats for her performance and impeccable sailing.
Menace - dubbed a dinghy on steroids, this brand
new and incredibly powerful MC38 One Design is owned by New
Zealander Howard Spencer and designed by America’s Cup
designer Harry Dunning and features the very latest
construction and design innovation. The boat has wintered in
Australia and is back in New Zealand for summer racing.
The 119mile course, which begins off Devonport Wharf in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, and finishes at Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands, is more or less a straight line drag, especially from Auckland to Cape Brett – things can change a bit at Cape Rodney as the course bends slightly more West. Skippers need to decide, based on the weather or wind direction, whether they stay inside or outside Hens and Chicks – and thread the needle at Cape Brett or stay well clear to avoid the infamous light winds there. But once they are around the corner boat speed is most important, and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible.
Russell, with a permanent population of around 700 people, has hosted up to 2000 sailors annually for many years. The town, once called ‘The Hellhole of the Pacific’ in reference to its 19th century status as a place where sailors and traders spent their weekend leave, it is now a quaint, historic village known for its colonial architecture, restaurants and galleries.
Watchers of the Great Race North should head to Devonport, Tamaki Drive or North Head for best viewing action, from between about 9.30am and 10.30am on Friday 25 October. Boat positions, progress times, photos, video and race commentary will also be posted on www.coastalclassic.co.nz
Coastal start is followed by
the arrival of the Tall Ships
A lot is happening on Auckland Harbour on Coastal day - eight celebrated and magnificent ships will arrive in Auckland between 1400 and 1300hrs. Full details are on the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum event website.