Coastal Classic: New faces, new boats and the Battle of the Sixties

L to R Skipper Ash Rogers, Crew Cathy Ross, Crew Domenica Bavaro - 2013 Coastal Classic
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One of the themes to come out of this year’s entry list in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic, is new entrants to the fleet setting out to achieve great things.

But we aren’t talking about the newest, most high tech or grand prix yachts.

We are talking about generally smaller, older boats, that have been around the blocks before, with a new generation of crew looking to make it happen again.

Ashley Rogers - a young chef who was born and bred in Guatemala - lives and breathes sailing, and recently purchased a 28 foot Double Diagonal Kauri sailing yacht named Strider.

Ash is relatively new to sailing, but has made up for it by packing in as much as she can. She sails every day except Monday, on a variety of boats, all of which are happy to have someone that is enthusiastic and hard working.

Cory McLennan and Atom Ant - 2013 Coastal Classic
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The boat might be older than she is, but it is well proven and seaworthy, and Ashley aims to race her, alone, across the Tasman, in five years time. With its reasonably far flung destination, requirement for robust boat preparation, and a return delivery, the Coastal Classic is an important step in the process for Ashley, and she will be racing with four other women, likely to be one of only two all-female crews in the race.

'I have worked hard to empty and clean her out and to find all the little bits and pieces that need repairing. My friends in the sailing world have helped or given advice,' she says. The Coastal Classic was the third race that Ash ever took part in.

Kai Skowronnek is a composite boatbuilder involved in the America’s Cup world who purchased his Reactor 25, Scintilla, two years ago in Opua and sailed it to Auckland before pulling it out of the water for a refit. Scintilla may turn out to be the smallest entrant in this year’s race.

'I started sailing dinghies when I was fifteen,' he says. 'I like racing, and I like the challenges that coastal racing has and it is the kind of sailing I could fill my life with.' Kai’s goal is to get a well prepared and equipped boat to the start, and then to sail a great race. He will be racing two handed, with his friend, Kushila Stein.

Taniwha a 9.5m long, thirty year old boat formerly known as Sunday Sun and raced extensively around the Pacific and New Zealand, is now owned by 31 year old software developer Lewis Callaghan, who has assembled a team of good friends aged 19 to 49, and is preparing to race to Fiji in June 2014, before heading off to the Queensland Regattas in Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.

Taniwha’s website describes the team as a group of 'over-enthusiastic amateurs' who are in pursuit of yachting glory. 'We’re not a big boat, but the Taniwha is fast, and while we lack age, we’re still hardy,' it says.

Sean Langman’s TEAM AUSTRALIA’s attempt to break the pasage race record from Sydney to Hobart

Add to the mix, 19 year old Cory McLennan (pictured above) who last year purchased the 9m racing yacht Atom Ant, also with the aim of making it to the Solo Tasman, and Chris Beaumont, who is entering his new purchase, Flying Boat, for the first time, and there are sure signs of a local sailing fleet that is paying attention to older, reasonably priced boats, and taking on remarkable new challenges.

The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is 119 nautical miles long and depending on the boat you are on, can be a sprint or a marathon: it takes anything from sub six hours for the fastest boats, to more than 24 hours for the less performance oriented.

The spectacular mass start is off Devonport Wharf at 10am on Friday 25 October, and the finish line is off the historic Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands.

Headline entrants include the giant ORMA60 trimarans TeamVodafone Sailing and Team Australia, rivaling each other for the first time in New Zealand waters, and Jim Delegat’s new 70 foot Giacomo, formerly known as Volvo Ocean Race winner Groupama, and likely to be the event’s biggest entrant.

The boats race in eight race divisions categorised by size and speed. A chance to win an Audi A1 is one of the feature prizes, along with another $30,000 of technological and marine related gear from sponsors that include PIC Insurance Brokers, B&G, Jackson Electrical Industries Limited, Yachting New Zealand, Dirty Dog, Elf Oils, Musto, Mount Gay Rum, Railblaza, and PredictWind.com.

The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club. Entries close on Friday 11 October. Boat tracking, commentary, progress times, photos and video will be available from race start on www.coastalclassic.co.nz.