Big numbers forecast for Bay of Islands Sailing Week 2016

Setup for the Bay of Islands Sailing Week regatta – which starts with registration tomorrow, Tuesday 26th January – is underway, and according to regatta organisers, progressing very well.

The regatta – now in its 14th year – is anticipating a huge crowd to arrive in the Bay of Islands for this year’s event. The combined entry list for both the Bay of Islands Sailing Week and Millennium Cup totals 94 boats, a large number of which are bigger boats boasting crews of 15 or more – meaning as many as 1,000 sailors are expected to take part in the event this year.

They will be accompanied by friends, families and supporters, as well as sponsors and media, resulting in a crowd of up to 1,400 people taking part in the event both on the water, and at each evening’s festivities at the Bay of Islands Sailing Week Race Village in Opua.

Regatta spokesman Ray Haslar said “We’ve been told that Opua is just buzzing with the number of people here already, which is great for the local businesses.”

The entry list features an incredibly broad spectrum of boats, from trailered sports boats to 39-metre superyachts. Entries have come in from both local waters and further afield, with a few international entries as well.

Weather forecaster and Kerikeri local Mike Quilter will be briefing the sailors each morning on the expected conditions for each of the three days of racing. He says the event will be influenced by ex-tropical cyclone Victor, which is currently to the north-east of New Zealand, but it’s not clear how at the current time.

Quilter said: “It’s a bit difficult to predict at the moment. The low pressure system sweeping by to the east will affect us, but it’s hard to say how. It may be light and raining for the regatta, but it depends on what happens to the low and where it goes.”

Despite the possibility of light winds and rain, organisers are confident the event will be just as successful as in previous years.

Chair of the Bay of Islands Sailing Week Committee, John Grant, said: “It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had light winds and rain for the event, but whatever the weather, we still manage to have good, competitive racing, and everyone still has a great time. The best thing would be to have some consistent breeze – we don’t mind a bit of rain if we get that!”

Bay of Islands Sailing Week starts with registration from 4:00pm until 6:00pm tomorrow, Tuesday 26 January, at the Bay of Islands Sailing Week Race Village in Opua.

Racing takes place over three days, from Wednesday 27 to Friday 29 January, starting at 10:30am each morning, and finishing around 4:00pm each afternoon.

Evening entertainment will take place in the North Sails/Southern Spars Marquee in the Bay of islands Sailing Week Race Village in Opua, starting at 4:00pm each day, and is open to all.

A prize giving ceremony will be held at 7:30pm on Friday 29 January, in the North Sails/Southern Spars Marquee.

Bay of Islands Sailing Week entry list can be found here.