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8 June 2005, 04:00 pm
Konica Minolta Smashes Fiji Race Record
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Auckland to Suva Race 2005
Suva, Fiji

Maxi Yacht KONICA MINOLTA has wiped well over a day from the Auckland to Suva race record. She arrived into Suva, Fiji, overnight finishing in an elapsed time of 3 days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 40 seconds.
Owner, Stewart THWAITES brought the 30 metre Bakewell-White flier to another race record arriving into the Fijian capital in wet, rainy conditions just before 0100 this morning. Previously set by Elliot designed Future Shock in 1989, Konica Minolta has slashed the record after a dream-run north. The maxi yacht previously known as Zana now holds both the Auckland to Noumea and the Auckland to Suva record.

The strong south westerly air flow that battered New Zealand last week provided the fleet a turbo start which carried Konica Minolta over halfway to Fiji. Following the tailor made starting conditions the boat had a quick run through the transition into the south easterly trade winds allowing them to maintain incredible pace. Clocking up a boat speed record of 34 knots on the first night out of Auckland, New Zealand, the crew described the race as a great ride.

'I think we averaged about 13 and a half or 14 knots,' says navigator Ross FIELD. 'It is the first time I've done a race like this on a boat this size, it's a fantastic boat - very impressive. We had one real blow during the first night, 45 knots of breeze and we did a wild broach blowing out the fractional spinnaker. After that it settled back to 18-25 knots from the south west.'

'We picked it very well really; we decided to keep to the east and then lift up to the rhumb line. The wind dropped to as low as six to seven knots going through the convergence zone and we gybed about ten times which is no mean feat for a 100 footer.'

Conditions in Suva were wet and rainy when Konica Minolta crossed the finish line at the entrance to the harbour.

'It was wet and rainy, and we couldn't see a thing,' says FIELD. 'Thank goodness for GPS, we came across the line relying entirely on the computer navigation the visibility outside was that bad.'

After the disappointment of having to withdraw while in the lead of last years Sydney to Hobart race due to hull damage in extreme conditions, this record is no doubt a thrill for owner, THWAITES and the Konica Minolta team.

The race is not over yet for the remainder of the 37 boat fleet which has not been so fortunate striking light fickle conditions through the convergence zone. The next boats are expected to arrive into Suva late tomorrow morning. The battle for second place over the line will be between Ron BRITTAIN's Hydroflow and Ross 40, Revs.

The race conclusion will reveal who the performers on handicap are, though stand outs as the race draws to a close are Ray HASLAR's 35 foot Davidson, Jive Talkin and 12 metre Cookson/Farr Moody Blue III.

The last boat is expected to arrive in Suva early Sunday morning depending on wind conditions over coming days. Race organizers are delighted that the conditions have delivered the record breaking result as well as excellent entry numbers in what is the 50th year of racing to Fiji from New Zealand.

Jodie Perkins. Image, Konica Minolta:© Royal Akarana Yacht Club
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