2014 Auckland to Fiji race - 11 months to go!

The Bakewell-White supermaxi Lahana rolls over the long swell off Sydney Heads - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012
Dale Lorimer

In just 11 short months, Royal Akarana Yacht Club will fire the starting gun for the 22nd Auckland to Fiji race, Sail Fiji.

Already the interest for this race has been overwhelming, with big names such as Australian entrant, Lahana (formally Konica Minolta), Steinlager 2 and Lion New Zealand putting their hands up for the tropical challenge. Ed Psaltis, one of the three owners of AFR Midnight Rambler also from Australia, has also put forward his expression of interest for the race.

'I’ve dreamt of sailing around the world. That won’t happen due to everyday life commitments, but this Sail Fiji race is the next best thing! Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, the other two owners, are equally keen on this new challenge. All three of us have been doing the Sydney Hobart together for many decades now, with 76 Hobart’s between us , so are looking for another challenge,' said Psaltis.

AFR Midnight Rambler (photo supplied) - Sail Fiji 2014
Suellen Hurling
'One of our long term crew, since 1996, is Chris Rockell, a Kiwi now residing in Australia. For many years and over many beers, he has told us how great the cruising grounds between the North Island tip and Auckland are. So we have finally been convinced to head over to the eastern island.'The Sail Fiji race sounds like a beauty, and with a quality fleet of great Kiwi offshore sailors, we look forward to some top level ocean racing. Our hope is that some of the newer boats over there and around our size and speed will enter as well to increase the excitement further.

'The owners and crew of AFR Midnight Rambler can’t wait!' continued Psaltis.

Sail Fiji starts on Saturday 7 June 2014 from Orakei on The Waitemata Harbour, the traditional starting point for all Royal Akarana Yacht Club races. The finishing destination is Port Denarau Marina who are excited about the arrival of the fleet.

'2014 marks a new era in the Auckland to Fiji Yacht Race which is being organised by a professional and dedicated team. This will be a race run by yachties for yachties and Port Denarau Marina is once again very proud to be associated with the Royal Akarana Yacht Club and Sail Fiji 2014. We are continuously upgrading and enhancing our facilities and will once again welcome all entrants to a carnival atmosphere when they arrive in Denarau. We hope to have a large fleet not seen for many years and with RAYC’s commitment and support I know this can be achieved,' stated Port Denarau Marina’s Managing Director Nigel Skeggs.

'Be part of history, be part of Sail Fiji 2014! We look forward to welcoming the skippers, crew and families to our little island paradise,' he continued.

Steinlager 2 at the start of the Auckland leg of the Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012
Although there are is still 11 months to go, the RAYC Race Committee for the event is hard at work building the expressions of interest list and pulling together the team who will make the event happen.

Sponsor and competitor Rodney Keenan from Evolution Sails is drumming up the interest from a hands on approach.

'It’s been great speaking to all the potential entrants for the race. Everyone is excited about the event which could very well be the largest offshore fleet to leave New Zealand in over 20 years.'

'I’m a sponsor and a competitor, and I can’t wait for this event to start,' said Keenan.

Sail Fiji isn’t just for the racers and cruisers. Families are encouraged to make the short trip across to meet their partners after the race and perhaps stay on for a fantastic holiday at one of Fiji’s amazing resorts.

Exclusive deals and offers will be available for the Sail Fiji fleet – details regarding this will be available in the coming months.

For more information visit www.sailfiji.co.nz

Follow the race via the website as well as Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/sailfiji and Twitter (www.twitter.com/sailfiji2014)