OKI 24-Hour and 6-Hour Races set sail this weekend

Le Mans start Oki 24 Hour Race
Joanna Cobb

The North Shore’s beloved OKI 24-Hour Race begins this Saturday, April 2 with more than forty teams competing for the winners’ podium, one that has been shared by the likes of Dean Barker and Russell Coutts since the race began in 1967.

The OKI 24-Hour Race is a competition for Laser sailors held on Lake Pupuke and run by Murrays Bay Sailing Club, a club with a rich history of sailors recognised through national championships, America’s Cup regattas and the Olympics.

'The Race gets underway with competitors running down the banks of Lake Pupuke in a Le Mans style start and then jumping into their boats,' says Murrays Bay Sailing Club Commodore, Craig Moss.

America’s Cup teams Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle will also taking a break from testing the new AC45 boats and will be participating in the start of the race. This is an opportunity for local young (and not so young) sailors to race alongside some of the best America’s Cup sailors.

'This year we have a sailor, Nathaniel Deverell, whose father won the competition in 1974 and 1975, as well as the Haybiddle children competing after recently relocating from Christchurch with the help of our club, ' says Moss.

From howling 30-knot southerlies to 2 knots of shifting breeze in the middle of the night and everything in between, the OKI 24-Hour Race is a test of man and boat against the elements.

Sailing is non-stop through the night, in crews of two competitors per boat, with each team member sailing for a maximum of three hours before required to rest for a minimum of one hour.

The winning team is the one that completes the most number of laps within the 24-hour period. Race sailors include every shape and size from 14 years up to 70 years of age.

The event is spilt into four categories: Open Class, Youth (under 19 years), Women’s and Masters’ (over 35). All competitors from each class can be in the running to win the overall OKI 24 Hour Race trophy.

A second event, the OKI 6-hour race runs just prior to the 24-Hour event and is an optimist dinghy race for children aged 9-15 years. This event starts at 7.30am and finishes 1.30pm on Saturday 2nd April, while the main OKI 24 Hour Race starts at 2pm Saturday 2nd April and finishes 24 hours later.

Team NZ, BMW Oracle (James Spithill and Dirk De Ridder) and a Legends boat (Don Cowie, Murray Jones, Tony Rae plus a special mystery guest) will also race each other during the OKI. They will start at 3pm on Saturday and race till 6pm, then join the sponsors at the commodores tent.

Both events are fundraisers for Murray’s Bay Sailing Club to develop youth sailing and local business Comworth, distributor for OKI fax and telecommunications products, has been sponsoring the race since 1989.

www.murraysbay.org / www.comworth.co.nz