At 1815hrs tonight, Team Australia won the 2013 PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic, arriving at Russell Wharf eight hours and 15 minutes after the start gun fired in Auckland, and nearly 37 minutes ahead of the New Zealand owned TeamVodafone Sailing. The blue trimaran, owned by Australian Sean Langman, broke TeamVodafone's three year winning streak, but did not break the sub-six hour Coastal Classic race record set by TeamVodafone last year.

images © Ivor Wilkings

Langman's Team Australia beats fleet to Russell

Over 160 boats departed Auckland at 10am this morning, and as sun set this evening, only Team Australia and TeamVodafone had finished. Eight had withdrawn with gear breakages, and the rest are marching on, steadfast in their determination to make it to Russell, despite uncomfortable conditions.

For the crew of TeamVodafone, it was a frustrating race. At mid afternoon they had a 500m lead on the blue boat, which they thought they had well covered. Then Team Australia took TeamVodafone by surprise when it found new - and better - breeze. While TeamVodafone was still sailing upwind at slower speeds, Team Australia was benefiting from a better wind angle, and reaching - quickly - all the way to Tutukaka.

"Once he pulled alongside us we tried to get back inshore but we never really got to it," says crewman Patrick O'Reilly of what was the turning point in the race.

Team Australia is the only boat to beat TeamVodafone: until this week, the boats had only met in Australia, when they each took points off the other. TeamVodafone took the first local win when the boats met up on Wednesday night.

PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic spokesperson Matthew Flynn congratulates Team Australia. "They really flew across the finish line, looking relaxed and comfortable. They had the perfect high speed conditions in which to race across the Bay of Islands."

The Coastal Classic Yacht Race from Devonport Wharf to Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands, is New Zealand's premier fleet yacht race and has been held annually at Labour weekend since its inception in 1982.
The original concept was the inspiration of Roger Dilley from the then Auckland Multihull Sailing Association (now the NZ Multihull Yacht Club) loosely based on the speed record attempts by power boats dating back to the 1920's over the same course.

Roger's original idea developed into being a full on drag race with the first boat into Russell being the overall winner. AMSA then put the challenge out to all multihull and keeler owners to join this non-stop race to the bar in Russell, push their boats and crews to the max and overall have an exhilarating fun weekend.

Twelve intrepid skippers and crews took up the challenge and when Roger put the final magic touch to the race by dreaming up the name - the "Coastal Classic" had arrived. The fleet was divided into one multihull division and several monohulls, by length but no handicap. Boats ranged in size from the Peter Williams' 62 foot Fidelis down to Alex and Mathew Flynn's 24-foot trimaran Gulf Chariot.

The inaugural Coastal Classic Yacht Race began in light conditions at 0900hrs Saturday October 23rd with monohull Fidelis leading the fleet past North Head. Multihulls Krisis and Sundancer got into the action as the winds freshened once out of the inner harbour with their match racing and fierce competitiveness from there onwards setting the scene for all Coastal Classic races to come.

Krisis, skippered by Duncan (Cookie) Stuart was the first boat into Russell and his record of 18 hours was not broken for 4 years, although the armchair experts thought it would be easily broken. Andrew Wallace on his Farr 11.6 keeler Hawkeye waved the flag for the monohulls by finishing a creditable 50 minutes behind the first two speedy multis.