The history of Ocean Racing in New Zealand is intimately related to The Royal Akarana Yacht Club (RAYC).
With the introduction of the first trans-Tasman race in 1931, the club became the founder of blue water offshore racing in New Zealand and no other club has done more to foster this type of racing. In 1956 RAYC became the first club to race to the pacific with a race to Fiji.
In 1951 the club added the White Island Offshore race to its program to encourage its sailors to venture further beyond the Hauraki Gulf without having to leave New Zealand waters. The club continues to hold this race along with rekindling other trophies from the past, such as the Yates Cup donated to the club by the owner of Yates Seeds and raced for in 2014 after a 25 year hiatus
Offshore sailor and RAYC Vice Commodore Sally Garrett said that the club is proud of its blue water races. Garrett was the first women to successfully complete the Short Handed Sailing Association’s Round New Zealand Race in 2012 finishing 3rd with sailing partner Rob Croft on the Farr 38 Expedition Coppelia.
“This is what we do! We provide Category 2 and Category 1 races for those that want more than harbour racing. We make sure there is Cat 3 and 4 races that people can use as stepping stones to going offshore and provide education as needed; we do our best to advocate for the everyday owner driver on offshore matters such as safety. It takes a unique person to decide to go offshore, but for New Zealand, it’s important that we support this type of racing,” said Garrett.
In November 2015, RAYC will send a fleet of boats to Wellington for the inaugural Auckland to Wellington Race. In the 1970’s and 80’s Devonport Yacht Club ran a similar race to Picton and Nelson. A lack of resources forced the club to stop holding the race, and only two handed crews have raced to the Cook Strait from Auckland in the last 10 years. RAYC are working in conjunction with the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, to rekindle the journey south from Auckland to Wellington via East Cape. There will also be a short-handed division for crews of 3, which could appeal to those wanting to do the SSANZ Round North Island in 2017.
RAYC is also the key organising club for the popular Category 4 Gold Cup Passage Series. The series is hosted in conjunction with Richmond Yacht Club, Bucklands Beach Yacht Club and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The Gold Cup Passage Series offers races from 35 to 87 nautical miles ending with the popular and historic Balokovic Cup which is required to start on a moonless night in February each year.
The Royal Akarana Yacht Club Blue Water Program is designed to give sailors a clear understanding of what events are coming up and to be able to budget and plan accordingly.
“Offshore racing can be expensive so our aim is to ensure everyone knows what’s happening and when their next favorite race is being held,” said Garrett.
“We get a lot of requests for when the Three Kings will be held again, as well as our popular Round White Island Race, and now, with the Blue Water Program, we can easily provide those key dates to interested parties,” continued Garrett.
Whilst specific dates are yet to be confirmed, the months for said races have been announced and over the next six months, RAYC will work on locking in dates and start times for the races.
For more information visit www.rayc.co.nz/bluewater