Jive Talkin was the star of the show. The 35 footer designed by Laurie DAVIDSON appeared out of the fog to cross the Suva finish line only an hour after Peter BLAKE's Whitbread maxi, Lion New Zealand. As the eighth boat into Suva they took out the race in both ORC Club and PHRF handicap divisions. Ray HALSAR has a long and illustrious sailing career which ranges from double-handed dinghy sailing through to offshore racing; his victory and outstanding result in this race is yet another to add to his list.
Race organizer Fendall HALLIBURTON describes the mood of Jive Talkin's owner and skipper, 'Ray HASLAR had a grin from ear to ear. Traditional Fijian handicrafts were awarded at the prizegiving and HASLAR walked away with a couple of great 'neck-breaker' clubs. To see them arrive only an hour after Lion was quite something. Jive Talkin reports a top speed of 21.6 knots in the last 24 hours to the finish line. HASLAR gives credit to Kevin Dibley Yacht Design for a new rudder and keel. He says the boat performed superbly.'
Early last Wednesday the arrival of Konica Minolta, a stunning 1 day, 3 hours and 55 minutes ahead of the race record set in 1989 by Future Shock was cause for celebration for owner Stewart THWAITES. The Bakewell-White designed 30-metre yacht formally known as Zana now holds both the Auckland to Noumea and the Auckland to Suva record. The performance was especially sweet after Konica Minolta was forced to retire while in the lead of last years Sydney to Hobart race due to structural damage sustained in heavy weather.
Further interest surrounded the arrival of Lion New Zealand, whose crew included two cameramen, a sound technician and a TV producer. The former Whitbread yacht, now owned by Auckland based tourism charter venture SAIL NZ, carried a group of rookie sailors trained to take on the 1,140 nautical mile race. Together with experienced yachtsmen they sailed the race under the spotlight of a film crew. Starting in south westerly tail winds of around 30 knots the race threw a range of conditions at the entire fleet which will no doubt create colossal interest when the footage taken aboard Lion New Zealand goes to air.
One Step Beyond skippered by John LIDGARD lost her rudder in the latter stages of the race and was escorted into Suva under jury rudder with all crew safe and well. The race's only single-handed entry Skiddy Too, sailed by Bretten HOLLAND, arrived at 1615 hours local time on Saturday. HOLLAND, who has sailed the Tasman single-handed twice, celebrated his 33rd birthday at sea during the race.
Yesterday's prizegiving gathering was blessed with clear skies and warm weather after most of the fleet were greeted into a wet and rainy Suva. Skippers and crew who had arrived earlier and already sailed off to the western side of the island made the trip back to the Fijian capital for the celebration. Delivery crew and families arriving into Fiji to join the race boats also enjoyed the traditional lovo feast, pig on-the-spit and Fijian dancing in the grounds and club house of the Royal Suva Yacht Club. Commander of the Fijian Military, Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA entertained the crowd as guest speaker and the entire event attracted a remarkable display of support from Fijian government officials.
Key sponsor of this year's event, NZL Yachting Trust is pleased with the great support from the New Zealand keelboat community reflected by the 38 strong fleet. This year celebrates 50 years of offshore racing between Auckland, New Zeland and Fiji and race organizers and sponsors are keen to ensure that offshore racing continues to appeal to New Zealand's keelboat owners.