James Irvine is the latest to sign on for the inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race and represents the first interstate entrant for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) race, which starts on Saturday, 7 October 2023 and finishes in Auckland Harbour.
Irvine has entered Mayfair, a Rogers 46 he bought in 2020, upgrading from earlier yachts of the same name. He habitually races out of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and particularly enjoys the cut and thrust of major offshore events, including those away from home.
The lure of the Sydney to Auckland race has many positive connotations: “I’ve got some ex- Kiwis who sail with us and it’s a bit of a bucket list thing. I’m originally a Kiwi. I came to Australia in 1989, so I’ve been living here longer than I lived in New Zealand. It’ll be good to go back there – and in this way – a new and long race,” Irvine shares. “It’s going to be a great race.”
Irvine’s crew will mainly be a core of those who regularly sail with him in offshore events.
“We like getting out there racing and having fun. The biggest part is to remember to have fun because you can get carried away with things otherwise. It’s important to come back to the enjoyment of sailing,” the Queenslander observes.
“We’ll probably stay on to enjoy the New Zealand hospitality. I still have family there, including my mother, who follows our racing on the trackers at different events. When we’re finished, she wants to know why we made certain moves and decisions,” he said amid laughter.
Irvine has six Sydney Hobarts behind him, including last year’s, along with a string of other major races along the east coast of Australia. Like other entrants in this race, he is relishing the opportunity of a new and different offshore challenge. And hearing others are keen to do it too, he says, “We’re looking forward to good competition.”
Of those already entered, Mayfair will provide solid competition for Mark Griffith’s DK46, LCE Old School Racing and Sibby Ilzhofer’s Cookson 47, Dare Devil.
The former two recently finished the taxing Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race over Easter. Thunderstorms and hail did not stop either one in a race where there were casualties. At the end, there were just seven seconds between the pair overall, with LCE Old School placed fourth and Mayfair fifth in IRC Division 1. It doesn’t get much closer.
To further limber up ahead of the big race, “We’ll do the Sydney to Gold Coast and Brisbane to Hamilton Island races. Then we’ll get back to prepare for the Sydney to Auckland Race,” says Mayfair’s owner, aware it will be on again with Griffith’s yacht when the start gun fires at 1pm on 7 October.
RPAYC’s Robert McClelland explains the race’s communications have been simplified for the 1250 nautical mile race: “Satellite phones, AIS and trackers on each boat, no time consuming skeds. This follows the Club’s successful Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race, which is run on the same basis.”
The other joy for competitors is that the 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 on in New Zealand and take advantage of the famous Coastal Classic held in late October. There is also the Bay of Islands Sailing Week in late January 2024 to consider – not to mention the scenic cruising opportunities.
The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race is open to fully crewed racing and cruising yachts, two-handed yachts, superyachts and ocean going multihulls. It is the longest race originating from Australia open to a variety of yacht classes.
Standard entries for the Category 1 Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, to be held by Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Association with the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in New Zealand, close on 1 September 2023.
For enquiries regarding the race, please contact Race Director, Nick Elliott on +61 2 9998-3700 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For all information, including entry and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com
By Di Pearson/Sydney to Auckland media