The new annual ocean race from Auckland to Bluff has received
the tick of approval from the organisers of the notorious
Sydney to Hobart event and it's likely to be almost as
The Auckland to Bluff race, or A2B, will be staged for the
first time on Waitangi Day, February 6, 2014, and has been
scheduled to cater for competitors in what is usually a
brutal event off the Australian coast which traditionally
starts on Boxing Day.
The A2B, which will be the longest ocean race to start and
finish in New Zealand - taking place over an 1100 nautical
mile course - will start in Auckland, head north to round
Cape Reinga and travel south along the west coast of New
Zealand to Bluff.
The Government has backed the event, contributing $440,000.
Economic Development minister Steven Joyce said it was an
excellent opportunity to show why New Zealand's marine sector
was among the best in the world.
Crucially, it has also received support from the Cruising
Yacht Club of Australia, an organisation which has been
running the Sydney to Hobart race for 67 years.
In a letter to A2B organiser Murray Francis, a New Zealand
filmmaker who was involved in the World's Fastest Indian
movie about Invercargill's Burt Munro, Cruising Yacht Club of
Australia chief executive Mark Woolf said: "We are very
pleased you have chosen to conduct the race in February as
this will not only give Australian-based yacht owners
something to consider participating in, we also think
international yacht owners who are planning on making the
journey to Australia in participate in our great race [will]
find the idea of crossing the Tasman ... an obvious addition
to their itinerary.
The A2B, initially limited to 30 entries, would be run by
Auckland's Royal Akarana Yacht Club. When asked how the sea
conditions would compare to the Sydney to Hobart race, which
was marred by tragedy in 1998 when five boats sank and six
people died in a strong storm, Commodore Mark Woodley said:
"It would compare favourably to the Sydney to Hobart.
"[But] it is a race in the southern ocean. Down the west
coast, there is a strong current that runs through there and
there is often a southerly that runs up, together with a big
swell that comes across the Tasman. It's an adventure race,
it will be challenging for the yachts, but I think that's
what will attract people to the race.
"This is not a race for a weekend warrior, put it that way.
This is a race for someone who has experience in ocean
racing, who have boats designed for it, are capable, and have
the equipment which is required for this type of race and
crews with experience of sailing in the worst of conditions."
While the race is scheduled to travel south along the west
coast, a very poor weather forecast would force the fleet to
travel through Cook Strait and down the east coast.
Francis said he began organising the A2B because of New
Zealand's sailing tradition and talent and the gap in the
yachting calendar. He said he had spent 18 months on the
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt was involved in the race
launch in Auckland today.