Sunday, 5 June 2011

Auckland to Fiji : Gales Replaced by Gentle Breeze for Delayed Fiji Race

A clash of the reds, as TeamVodafoneSailing's trimaran and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand's VO70 start the race from Auckland to Musket Cove, Fiji. Image copyright Ivor Wilkins.

by Ivor Wilkins

Following a 24-hour delay to allow gale-force north-easterly winds to subside, the fleet of yachts racing in the New Zealand International Yachting Trust Auckland to Musket Cove Ocean Race ghosted out of Auckland today in a light northerly breeze.

The contrast between the two days could hardly have been greater. Yesterday, rain and howling winds lashed the city, while today people flocked to the beaches as summer conditions returned.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Ivor Wilkins.

First out into the Hauraki Gulf was the Emirates Team New Zealand Camper team in their first competitive outing before the Volvo Ocean Race. The powerful red yacht lit up in the soft breeze and surged across the favoured pin end of the startline to lead the fleet away.

Line honours favourite, the 18m trimaran, Team Vodafone Sailing (TVS) was judged over the line early at the start and had to return to re-start before giving chase.

TeamVodafoneSailing. Image copyright Ivor Wilkins.

The fleet of 14 yachts competing in the race gathered at the starting area in virtually no wind and glassy seas. However, just as the yachts came under starter’s orders at midday, a light 8-knot northerly began to fill in – providing a gentle send-off on the 1,140-mile race to Fiji.

The race is organized by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in association with the New Zealand International Yachting Trust.

Expectations were that Team Vodafone Sailing might threaten the RNZYS record of 120hrs 21mins 45secs set by Systems Thunder in 2008. However, skipper Simon Hull said the light conditions meant the record was unlikely to fall.

As Camper and TVS led the fleet past Rangitoto Light, the next two yachts out into the Hauraki Gulf were Wired, owned by Rob Bassett and Brett Russell, and the historic Whitbread Round the World racer, Lion New Zealand, skippered by William Goodfellow.

Fans can follow the progress of the fleet by checking into the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website ( where the Yellowbrick tracking system will update positions every 20 minutes.