CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week is the biggest regatta of its kind in New Zealand, and is regarded as one of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier yachting events.
Held over three days of racing in the spectacular setting of the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand, the event is now in its 17th year, and continues to go from strength to strength.
Described by yachting commentator Peter Montgomery as “the best big boat regatta in New Zealand”, the event regularly attracts over 100 boats and an estimated 1,000 sailors from the local area, and around New Zealand and overseas. This year, the event broke records with an entry list totalling 116 boats.
The ethos of the regatta is one of all-inclusive and fun racing, where boats of all shapes and sizes, and sailors of all abilities, can compete. The event is organised almost entirely by volunteers, and made possible with the generous support of sponsors CRC, NZL Sailing Foundation, North Sails, Explore, Mount Gay Rum, Luxury Real Estate, KZ Marine and Bay of Islands Marina.
Three days of competitive yet fun racing for yachts of all shapes and sizes, plus evening entertainment.
Racing starts today, Wednesday 23 January, and continues through Thursday 24, concluding Friday 25 January.
Racing takes place throughout the Bay of Islands, with smaller boats racing inshore, and larger, faster boats racing in the outer Bay. The ‘Island Racing’ divisions sail longer courses using the area’s spectacular natural features and islands as race marks.
Evening entertainment is provided at the North Sails & Explore Marquee, at the Opua Cruising Club. A Beach Party at the Otehei Bay Resort on Urupukapuka Island is scheduled for Thursday evening.
The regatta attracts a huge range of boats and sailors from around NZ and overseas. This year, notable names include Olympic sailors Sharon Ferris-Choat and Rex Sellers, Paralympian Chris Sharp, and Volvo Ocean Race sailor Keryn McMaster.
The Island Racing divisions – where competitors sail one longer course around the Bay of Islands each day – have proved more popular than ever this year. Two thirds of entries – 78 boats in total – have opted to sail in the Islands Racing divisions, rather than other divisions which sail two windward leeward courses and a shorter bay race each day. With up to 20 boats in each Island Racing fleet, the race starts should make for spectacular and exciting viewing.
The Thursday evening Beach Party at Otehei Bay resort on Urupukapuka Island is set to be a highlight of this year’s regatta. Always popular in years past, the beach party hasn’t featured in the event for some years due to logistical issues. But thanks to event sponsor Explore, who manage the resort at Otehei Bay and will provide a ferry service, this hugely popular event is making a welcome comeback in 2019.
Ones to watch…
Ted & Lilly-Marie Houry in the Weta fleet
Local brother and sister team Ted Houry, age 12, and Lilly-Marie Houry, age 14, can easily boast the youngest combined crew age in the regatta. The pair will compete on the Weta class trimaran Michaux Mayhem. Last year Ted made headlines when he kicked his father off the boat on the final day of racing due to ‘weight issues’, and went on to win the race single-handed.
Three generations of Ferris family
Olympic and round-the-world sailor Sharon Ferris-Choat will be competing with three generations of family on board Black Swan. Her crew includes mother Pauline Ferris, and daughters Sofia (10) and Victoria (5). Regatta organisers believe this to be the first all-female keelboat entry the regatta has seen in its 17 year history.
Young sailors get ‘formula one’ racing experience
Several young sailors from around New Zealand will get the chance to experience some of the most competitive keelboat racing the country has to offer, thanks to a project by the New Zealand Sailing Foundation. The NZLSF, with the support of the TP52 fleet, has placed young sailors on each of the yachts racing in A Division at CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week, giving them the exciting opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.