The new annual ocean race from Auckland to Bluff has
received support from the organisers of the Sydney to Hobart
The 1100-nautical mile Auckland to Bluff (A2B) Ocean Race,
launched yesterday, is expected to bring 30 of the world's
fastest maxi and super yachts to the quiet Southland harbour
in its first year, 2014.
A giant inflatable wharf is likely to be transported from
Auckland to accommodate them.
The race will be gruelling, taking yachts up to North Cape,
around the top of New Zealand and down the western side of
both islands. They will swing well out into the Tasman Sea
rather than hug the shore.
Organisers hope to attract professional and amateur skippers
and crews from all over the world and grow the event over
time. Festivals are planned for the start and finish. It is
hoped northern hemisphere sailors already in the Pacific for
the Australian race, which begins on Boxing Day, will stay on
to join this race.
The race sponsors are Auckland's Royal Akarana Yacht Club,
the Invercargill City Council and Yachting New Zealand.
Yesterday, Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce
announced the Government would invest $440,000 in the
Crucially, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which has
run the Sydney to Hobart race for 67 years, has given its
Chief executive Mark Woolf told A2B organisers the timing,
from February 6, would give Australian-based yacht owners
something to consider and be an obvious itinerary addition
for international participants.
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was ''very excited''
by the race, which would be an economy-boosting event
attracting people to Southland.
The council and its funding partners would be contributing,
although he said it was ''early days'' and he did not know
yet how much would be required.
''Events such as the Burt Munro [motorcycle] Challenge, the
Tour of Southland [cycling event] and the Rugby World Cup
have done very well for Southland in terms of economic
benefits gained for money put in.
''We think this one will be of similar scale."
The council's funding partners included the Invercargill
Licensing Trust, the Community Trust of Southland and the
local authority collaboration Venture Southland, he said.
Members of the Bluff Yacht Club were looking forward to the
race, past commodore Craig Smith said.
The club had 40 senior members and operated from ''a tin shed
on the foreshore'', Mr Smith said. That was where the club
planned to host race officials and visiting skippers and
''When the guys from the Sydney-Hobart race came out to visit
us last year, they liked the shed ... Bluff's uniqueness will
be one of the attractions for the competitors."
The 628-nautical mile Sydney to Hobart race was first
contested in 1945.
The route is known for its high winds and big seas.