The race started at 10am Friday morning outside the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in a light nor-wester and warm conditions.
Owner Manouch Moshayedi assembled a cracking team of American sailors and a few Kiwi ring-ins to fill some spots. Most notably, 2 times America’s Cup winner Peter Isler (USA) was on board as Navigator with local boy Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson (NZL) as tactician.
LSD was asked to be on board for the race to capture the action and it was Buoy who was lucky enough to get the ride. Daz was already on Beau Geste and Lissa was the eye in the sky buzzing the fleet with Phil Hart in his Ultralite.
Rio had a ‘sticky’ start to say the least ending up in an altercation with the RAYC Rear Commodore Sally Garrett on board Expedition Coppelia. But after some quick work and calm words by both crews, both boats were out of the blocks and away.
It did not take long for the 3 big boats to stretch their legs. Along side Rio100 on the race track were Karl Kwok’s ‘Beau Geste’ (Botin 80 – Gavin Brady was in charge in Karl’s absence) and RAYC member Jim Delagat’s ‘Giacomo’ (VO70). Both of whom would provide an excellent gauge on performance and competition across the 230nm course.
With the big A1 up and set around Rangitoto Light, Rio began to make use of her waterline length. It did not take long before Rio had the (monhull) lead and extended all the way to Cuvier Island chasing the only multihull in the fleet – Team Vodafone Sailing (ORMA 60) who were looking a little sticky in the light conditions.
Rounding Channel Island and heading to Cuvier Island the boat sat comfortably on 17 knots of boat speed with around 12 knots true wind speed. Putting in several gybes to get down to our lay line to make Cuvier, the crew work looked impeccable and it was a privilege to be able to watch professional sailors do what they do best – sail!
Beau Geste had given the Poor Knights quite a large berth to try and avoid the fickle conditions. In turn they ended up a lot closer to the Northland Coast after rounding which let Rio slip through and slink her way out to a comfortable lead by Cape Rodney eventually building more boat speed with more pressure.
The sun popped up and warmed the crews backs as we passed Tiritiri Martangi Island in sight of the city and the finish. Beau Geste still of our stern which was a nice sight for everyone on board.
We crossed the line at 7.36am on Saturday morning and celebrated with a hand shake, a smile and a motor sail back up the harbour.
The boat is now into a few more days of practice while the crew from the states are still in Auckland before a delivery crew sail her across to Sydney for the end of the year must watch race – the ‘Sydney to Hobart’. Good Luck Rio! We will be following you!