Image Above – The start of the first Auckland to Suva Race. From left, Ranginui, Wanderer, Kismet and Daydream.
In exactly one year today, the Sail Fiji race organized by Royal Akarana Yacht Club will start from the Orakei Wharf on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
Scheduled for Saturday 7th June 2014, Sail Fiji will be the 22nd race to the Fijian islands for the club that is considered the home of blue water sailing.
Established in 1895, Royal Akarana Yacht Club first ventured to Fiji in 1956 with 13 boats making the journey. Since then there has been many ups and down with ocean racing, however RAYC has maintained its heritage and continues to race.
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 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 was now home to many deep water yachtsman who were keen to experience new adventures and challenges and to meet this need the committee decided that a race north to the Pacific Islands would fit the bill.
Thus was born the Auckland to Suva race, now regarded as one of the world’s classic yacht races. It was seen as a way to get yachts up to the Pacific Islands for several months of tropical cruising during the winter months in New Zealand. It was held for the first time in 1956 with 13 entries and it was popular from the start – so much so that in 1973 there were 70 yachts and in 1977 a record number of 117 entries were received. This latter number was too great to be accommodated at the Royal Suva Yacht Club so half the fleet was sent to Lautoka.
In 1997, the race to Fiji was sent to the western side of Viti Levu for the first time. The yachts finished just inside the Momi Passage and they then were accommodated in a partially developed new marina at the Denerau Resort. The race has finished at Denerau a further four times and in 2006 the host location was the Vuda Point marina at First Landing.
The year 2000 race was riddled with controversy – It was abandoned at the request of the RT Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, due to the first Fijian Military Coup led by Colonel Sitaveni Ramuka. The majority of the fleet returned to New Zealand, whilst some altered course and headed to Noumea. A handful of boats continued to Fiji under their own authority.
The 2014 race will finish in the Momi Passage at the Navula Light with the fleet to be hosted at Denerau Marina. Expressions of Interest are coming through already with the Notice of Race and Official Entry due out in August 2013.
Different divisions have been created to encourage boats to join the fleet. General overall results will include PHRF, IRC, Mono Line and Multihull Line and a general monohull handicap as well as divisions for the European Cup, Classic Kiwis and Cruising.
Expressions of Interest to date
|1.||NZL||Carrera||Marten 49||John Meadowcroft|
|2.||NZL||Bullrush||Elliott 12||Anthony Robinson|
|4.||NZL||Kia Kaha||TP52||Chris & Manuela Hornell|
|5.||NZL||Steinlager 2||Maxi Ketch||William Goodfellow|
|6.||NZL||Lion New Zealand||Holland Maxi||TBC|
|7.||NZL||Blizzard||Farr 44||John Miller|
|9.||NZL||Surreal||Beneteau first 47.7||Tim Holgate|
|10.||NZL||Moody Blue IV||Beale||Hamish Milne|
|11.||AUS||Lahana||Maxi 100||Peter Millard|
|12.||NZL||Rainbow V||Farr 1220||Mark Clough|
|13.||NZL||Celadon||Elliott Tourerr 1650||Richard Macalister|
|14.||FRA||Laissez Faire||Beneteau 58′||Mack Storey|
|15.||NZL||Starlight Express||Davidson 55||Mike Wilson|
|16.||NZL||Bodacious||Davidson||Simon Meikle & John Toon|
|17.||NZL||The Taniwha||Warwick 30||Lewis Callaghan|
Sail Fiji isn’t just for the racers and cruisers. Families are encouraged to make the short trip across to meet their partners after the race and perhaps stay on for a fantastic holiday at one of Fiji’s amazing resorts.
Exclusive deals and offers will be available for the Sail Fiji fleet – details regarding this will be available in the coming months.
For more information visit www.sailfiji.co.nz