Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

The first entries have been received for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC), and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) hosted inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, due to start on Saturday, 7 October 2023, at 1pm.

Postponed in 2021 due to Covid, this challenging 1250 nautical mile race starts on Sydney Harbour and finishes off the RNZYS in Auckland. It is open to racing and cruising yachts, superyachts and ocean-racing multihulls.

Entries already received come from RPAYC’s Mark Griffith with the DK46, LCE Old School Racing and lnity, Marc Depret’s Figaro 3. Dare Devil, the Cookson 47 owned by Sibby Ilzhofer from Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club in NSW, is also entered.

Griffith commented, “I think it’s going to be a premier race, the longest (from Australia) and an international race. This is the first time anyone gets to do it, so there should be quite a bit of interest and a strong fleet.”

On the dynamics of the race, the yachtsman says, “It will probably be six or seven days. The Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart are a sprint by comparison. We will have to pace ourselves more with the various conditions.”

 LCE Old School on the way to third overall in the Pittwater to Coffs race © Andrea Francolini

The LCE Old School Racing crew plans to take full advantage of the New Zealand end of the race.

‘We’ve got plans to stay over,” Griffith says. “The Coastal Classic is only a week later and gets around 160 entries. We don’t want to miss that. We also plan to cruise to the Bay of Islands (one of the most spectacular places on the planet) and that’s on the way home, so we might leave the boat there and do the Bay of Islands Regatta.

“This is not something we get to do every day, so we want to go hard at it,” Griffith ends.

On being the first entry in, Sibby Ilzhofer says, “Like the Sydney Noumea (1064 nautical miles), it’ll be challenging. It’s a new race, so it starts our hearts beating again. I think It’ll also bind Australia and New Zealand as sailing nations.”

Inity - Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race - photo © Robert McClelland
Inity – Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race – photo © Robert McClelland

Ilzhofer continues, “I love New Zealand. Some of my crew from other races in the past are from there. Not only that, Dare Devil is a Cookson boat built in New Zealand. We have a new mast and rigging, also from New Zealand. It’s ready to go in the boat, which has been painted black, has a new black mast and black sails (like the All Blacks),” she laughs. “So, the boat will be heading home in a way.”

On preparing, the yachtswoman says, “It’s not easy, but the Alfreds have been so helpful. I had a call to see if I needed any help. You don’t get much of that these days. To have internal support makes you feel connected.”

New paint job and mast for Dare Devil - photo © Sibby Ilzhofer
New paint job and mast for Dare Devil – photo © Sibby Ilzhofer

On her expectations, she says, “From a racing perspective, I’d like to see us repeat our fifth over the line behind the big boats in the Sydney Noumea race.

“From a crew perspective, I want a cohesive team that works well together. I like to run a calm crew with good teamwork and I’ll be building that team over the next six months.”

The inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race has been timed to allow prospective competitors to compete on the northern circuit in Queensland beforehand and to be back in Australia in time for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart yacht races.

Alternatively, entrants can stay in New Zealand to take advantage of the famous Coastal Classic in late October. There is also the option of staying longer to cruise and take in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week in late January 2024.

Entries for the Category 1 Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race close on 1 September 2023. For all information, including entry and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com

The race finishes off Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron - photo © RNZYS
The race finishes off Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron – photo © RNZYS

by Di Pearson / Sydney to Auckland media

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