New yacht race comes to Auckland Harbour

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Based on the famous Barcolana Regatta in Trieste, Italy, the Harbour Classic takes place on a 14 mile four-sided fixed mark course. Pic: Suellen Hurling / Live Sail Die

We’ve watched the thrilling racing of the America’s Cup and the hi-tech racing of Sail GP but it’s time to get involved – get in, on, or around the water.  And that’s why the New Zealand Multihull Sailing Club is bringing a new – one-of-kind yacht race to the City of Sails.  Introducing the Harbour Classic.

Based on the famous Barcolana Regatta in Trieste, Italy – holder of the Guinness World Record as the largest regatta in the world – the Harbour Classic takes place on a 14 mile four-sided fixed mark course.  The starting line sits off North Head, runs along the north shore beaches to Torbay, finishing back at North Head through the Rangitoto Channel.

The inaugural Harbour Classic starts on Friday, March 31 with a welcome party followed by race day on Saturday, April 1 at 12 noon.

“What’s unique about this race is that everyone starts on the same line at the same time.  It’s basically a sprint to the finish” says Greer Houston, Commodore of New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club.

While this might put the wind-up people’s sails, safety is paramount, which is why all boats will motor right up to the start line.

This year will see a much smaller fleet take to the Harbour.  “Like any new event, it takes time to build and time for people to get used to anything outside the norm” says Houston.

“2023 will see the Harbour Classic as more of a standalone yacht race, however, 2024 and beyond will see the event become part of a bigger festival.  Our aim is to bring Aucklanders back into the Harbour, inviting expert sailors, sailing lovers, enthusiasts and your simple family yachts to race side by side.

“We want Kiwis to enjoy a spectacle, get amongst the atmosphere of a sailing village and get back to celebrating the City of Sails.  And one day we want to put New Zealand on the world stage by breaking the current world record of 2689 boats on a starting line – why not?”

Added to the uniqueness of the event is the ability for all competing yachts to berth at Jellicoe/North Wharf.  “It’s not often you get to moor your boat right in the Heart of the City, says Houston, “a real bonus for those who don’t have moorings within Auckland Harbour.  It also means you are just metres from our venue partner Wynyard Pavilion and a plethora of bars and restaurants.”

With a fleet of 25 boats and a few days to go, organisers are thrilled with the turn out.

“The Coastal Classic started with 12 boats and everyone thought they were mad, now it draws one of the largest group of participants and is a must-do race on the sailing calendar. We’re thinking one day the Harbour Classic will be the same.”

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