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This coming weekend is the October Long Weekend which marks the unofficial start of the ‘summer’ season in the Bay of Islands.

It is the weekend of The Coastal Classic Yacht Race. The race begins in Auckland on Friday 19th October at 10.00am. A fleet of contending boats including catamarans and mono-hulls, sail up the east coast.

The race record was broken last year by TeamVodafoneSailing. They flew up the coast in five hours, 44 minutes and 31 seconds.  It can take some of the smaller boats considerably longer to join the celebrations as the fleet usually sail in throughout the night and into the new day.

On Saturday morning Russell awakes to a sea of sails, wet weather gear strewn across rails and the hum of tenders ferrying people to and from the wharf.
I did the race one year in my boat at the time, ‘Demos’. It was great fun.

The organizers get right behind the event and the Russell community look forward to welcoming the boats every year. Prize-giving is held at The Duke of Marlborough Tavern and there’s always some great sponsored prizes. Yachties like a party and with the atmosphere over the weekend is usually a little mischievous but light-hearted.  The Far North District Council Public Places Liquor Control Bylaw 2003 prohibits the consumption or possession of liquor in all public places 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so the Bay of Islands promotes family-friendly fun.

It’s a short and sweet land party at any rate, as many of the boats have to leave again on Sunday to make the trip back down to Auckland.

Welcome to all yachties and their family and friends who are heading this way next weekend. Safe sailing!

Charlie Brendon-Cook