Fingers crossed for auckland

ocean racing

Fingers crossed for auckland

Auckland; The City of Sails and land of the JAFA’s (just another f##king Aucklander) has her fingers crossed to land the final Pacific Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. With neither Australia nor New Zealand securing a stopover from the 08/09 edition of the race, both countries are fighting hard for a visit from the race that is revered in this corner of the globe. Indeed both countries have a rich history in the race-providing key crew members and entries to many campaigns.

The rumour mill is in full flow, speculation a plenty of the possible ports-ultimately coming down to: Southport on Australia’s Gold Cost and Auckland, on the the Northern tip of the North Island, NZ. Southport is keen to host a big boat event and was viewed by Alinghi as a possible venue for the 33rd A/C before they chose Valencia, the tried and trusted A/C venue.

Auckland on the other hand, has a long history with the race. The city is a hotbed of sailing talent and the conveyor belt has steadily produced a consistent breed of sailor that is almost unequalled in any other part of the world- with the possible exception of Lorient in France. A quick breakdown of the Kiwi influence in the 08/09 race reads as follows:

  • Ericsson 4: Bannantyne, Endean, Mutter, Jackson and Jameson.
  • Ericsson 3: Mason.
  • Green Dragon: McLean.
  • Team Russia: Costello.
  • Puma: Salthouse, Ferris, Williams and Salthouse.
  • Telefonica Black: n/a.
  • Telefonica Blue: Wislang.
  • Delta Lloyd: Wilson, Molloy and Houston.

Ad the Kiwi twang of the vast armies of each shore crew and you get the picture. The race is dominated by a New Zealand influence both at present and also historically- Grant Dalton and the legendary Sir Peter Blake contributed massively  to the Whitbread Race. Unfortunately there are no soundings of a New Zealand entry into the race in 2011, therefore, a stopover would be a fitting way to acknowledge the massive contribution to sailing made by the Land of the Long White Cloud. Cast a glance back to the 01/02 race when Richard Mason on Assa Abloy spoke of fulfilling a childhood dream of helming a Whitbread/Volvo 60 into Viaduct Harbour and you see how much the race means to New Zealanders.

Many of the current flock of Kiwi sailors drew inspiration from this great man. His heroics in America’s Cup, Whitbread and Jules Verne racing set the benchmark for sailing in New Zealand and many have strived to match his achievements.  Even in the Northern Hemisphere, the feats of famous New Zealand sailors have stirred a passion amongst sailors, stoking the fires for offshore sailing and focusing the mentality from “why can’t we do that” towards “let’s do that”. With that in mind, fingers crossed for an Auckland Stopover and the next generation of offshore sailors helming the carbon fibre weapons into the Harbour, where the crews, caked in Southern Ocean salt reach a heaving wharf for a cold beer. – Gilligan.