Monday, 19 October 2009

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic: Weather forecasters give green light to record attempt

Alfa Romeo. Image copyright Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing.

by Zoe Hawkins

The weather gurus have spoken, and Friday’s HSBC Premier Coastal Classic race from Auckland to Russell in the Bay of Islands has a very good chance of being one for the record books.

The forecast from could go one of two ways, both of them good.

The first option, in traditional HSBC Premier Coastal Classic style, favours a light to moderate South Westerly of 10 knots at the start, building as the boats move northward, pushing the boats faster and faster as they speed up the coast on the 119nm racetrack. By the time the bulk of the fleet turn off at Cape Brett for the final drag into the Bay of Islands, the breeze will move South-East and build, providing an idyllic night time run into the finish.

The second option is even better. South Easterly conditions are optimal for a record setting race, and South Easterly conditions are what this forecast model suggests, with the fleet beginning in 10 knots of breeze, sailing through the afternoon in the early teens, with perhaps a touch more East in it. By the time the majority of the fleet get to Cape Brett, a 20-knot South Easter will be on offer.

“The HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is shaping up to be a great race,” says David Griffiths, CEO HSBC New Zealand. “We are excited to see the presence of a major international racer as well as some of the country’s most successful sailors and yachts lining up this year. This is a prestigious event, and one that we are very pleased to be involved with.”

“The breeze is light enough for the light multihulls such as Frantic Drift and Taeping to have a very good race against the supermaxi Alfa Romeo,” says race spokesperson Jon Vincent. “All can achieve averages above that required to set a record. What this means is it will be a very closely contested and watched race.”

The HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is the biggest coastal yacht race in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the world. It started life 28 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, consisting of grand prix racers, America’s Cup boats, and small family cruisers.

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.

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic race start 2008. Supplied image.

The race can take as little as seven or eight hours for the very fastest boats, or as long as two days for the slowest boats in light conditions.

As well as welcoming back principal sponsor HSBC, the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent companies: Orb, Jucy Rentals, Safety at Sea,, Harken, Donaghys Southern Ocean, Southern Pacific Inflatables, Sail NZ, Mount Gay Rum, Steinlager, Sunday Star Times, Yamaha Motors NZ, De Walt, Dirty Dog and Trade a Boat.

HSBC Premier Coastal Classic

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