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Start of country's biggest yacht race kicks off long weekend holiday weekend

by PIC Coastal Classic/ 19 Oct 2023 02:52 UTC 20 October 2023
2022 PIC Coastal Classic - The 40th Edition © Suellen Hurling / Live Sail Die

More than 150 yachts will start the PIC Coastal Classic yacht race tomorrow morning. The coastal sailing marathon is the biggest of its type in New Zealand, and marks the start of the summer boating season for hundreds of Kiwi sailors.

Despite El Nino delivering weeks of westerlies and south-westerlies, the forecast for race day is a moderate easterly. This will likely make it a pleasant race all the way from Auckland to Russell, a distance of 119 nautical miles with the fastest boats potentially arriving around dinner time. Some rain could make an appearance.

Amongst the entrants are two Australian boats, entrants in the Royal Port Albert Yacht Club Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, making the 1,250 nautical mile race across open ocean to arrive in Auckland for the start.

"We extend a big welcome to Mayfair and Frantic, they have come a long way to be here and we look forward to extending Kiwi hospitality in both Auckland and the Bay of Islands," says race spokesperson Adrian Percival.

He says that while these are fast boats, the easterly and south-easterly wind direction are most likely to favour the twelve multihull entries entered.

"There is a short beat, a tack and a long reach up the coast - then a run into the bay. On paper this year's race looks really cool - but as we know anything can happen and it's dangerous to make predictions."

Monohulls have only won on line twice since 2009. V5, an Alan Andrews TP52 skippered by Brian Petersen of the RNZYS took top honours last year.

PredictWind weather routing shows that Open 8.5 multihulls are likely to finish in between six and eight hours. The big TP52 keelboats are likely to finish closer to 10 hours, getting in after dinner at around 8pm. Smaller keelboats such as the Young 88 could have a long evening on the water, and are predicted to get in between 12am and 2am.

The PIC Coastal Classic started life 41 years ago as a drag race between Auckland and Russell for just a few boats, and over the years attracted a bigger and more diverse fleet, ranging from grand prix racers to smaller family cruisers.

The race starts on the morning of Friday 20 October at 0930hrs and finishes off Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands.

The sail up the coast is spectacular for the fleet, but wind and conditions can be changeable which means that fortunes can change quickly.

Organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is a race designed for speed: except for at the beginning and the end of the race, there are few opportunities to use tactics to overtake, and success can often depend on getting a good tactical start.

As well as welcoming back long term supporter PIC Insurance Brokers, the Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand's pre-eminent marine brands: B&G,, 36 degrees Brokers. Line 7 and Doyle Sails.

For those watching the race start from ashore, prime vantage points are Fort Cautley, Narrow Neck Beach, Takapuna Grammar/George Gair Reserve.

The first start is at 0930hrs on Friday October 20. Full coverage on

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