When it comes to coastal racing you want downwind, you want plenty of wind, but you don’t want too much of it.
So far, so good for an estimated 170 starters in the 40th PIC Coastal Classic which kicks off on Friday from Devonport Wharf and finishes 119 nautical miles up the coast off Russell Wharf.
An analysis run on Tuesday through the wind forecaster PredictWind.com – an official partner to the race – shows that a classic South-Westerly of up to 20 knots is forecast for the startline.
For spectators this will mean a trip to North Head or Bastion Point is a must-do to watch the spectacle of the fleet jostling for the startline while hoisting spinnakers and accellerating around North Head. The fastest boats will enjoy wind strength and the wind direction for most of the race. The slower ones might be relieved when it relents during the evening, making their left turn at Cape Brett and drop into the finish line more comfortable.
Weather forecasts are updated regularly, but if this holds true, the fast multihulls will be spotted rounding Tapeka soon after 4pm.
The TP52 keelboats including Wired, Mayhem, Kia Kaha and V5 could be in Russell township for a hot meal at dinner time.
The Young 88 class keelboats, can expect to have a late night, but should be finished well before midnight, with the breeze easing off from sunset.
The PIC Premier Coastal Classic is the biggest coastal yacht race in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the world. It started life 40 years ago as a drag race between Auckland and Russell for just a few boats, and over the years attracted a bigger and more diverse fleet, ranging from grand prix racers to small family cruisers.
Organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is a race designed for speed: except for at the beginning and the end of the race, there are few opportunities to use tactics to overtake, and success can often depend on getting a good tactical start.
The race can take as little as five hours for the very fastest boats in perfect conditions, or as long as two days for the slowest boats in light conditions.
As well as welcoming back long term supporter PIC Insurance Brokers, the race is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent marine brands: B&G, PredictWind.com, and 36° Brokers.
For those watching the race start from ashore, prime vantage points are Devonport Wharf, North Head, Orakei Wharf and the race website, www.coastalclassic.co.nz which will be updated regularly with photos, commentary and radio positions throughout the race.