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At 1815hrs tonight, Team Australia won the 2013 PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic, arriving at Russell Wharf eight hours and 15 minutes after the start gun fired in Auckland, and nearly 37 minutes ahead of the New Zealand owned TeamVodafone Sailing.
The blue trimaran, owned by Australian Sean Langman, broke TeamVodafone’s three year winning streak, but did not break the sub-six hour Coastal Classic race record set by TeamVodafone last year. Over 160 boats departed Auckland at 10am this morning, and as sun set this evening, only Team Australia and TeamVodafone had finished. Eight had withdrawn with gear breakages, and the rest are marching on, steadfast in their determination to make it to Russell, despite uncomfortable conditions. For the crew of TeamVodafone, it was a frustrating race. At mid afternoon they had a 500m lead on the blue boat, which they thought they had well covered. Then Team Australia took TeamVodafone by surprise when it found new – and better – breeze. While TeamVodafone was still sailing upwind at slower speeds, Team Australia was benefiting from a better wind angle, and reaching – quickly – all the way to Tutukaka. “Once he pulled alongside us we tried to get back inshore but we never really got to it,” says crewman Patrick O’Reilly of what was the turning point in the race. Team Australia is the only boat to beat TeamVodafone: until this week, the boats had only met in Australia, when they each took points off the other. TeamVodafone took the first local win when the boats met up on Wednesday night. PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic spokesperson Matthew Flynn congratulates Team Australia. “They really flew across the finish line, looking relaxed and comfortable. They had the perfect high speed conditions in which to race across the Bay of Islands.” As the evening closed in, the wind moved to the West in Russell, it was calm, and it was expected to lighten off further after a rain squall moved through. Further down the course, a wind change willl mean a longer but more comfortable race for most entrants. The boats line up in eight race divisions categorised by size and speed. A chance to win an Audi A1 is one of the feature prizes, along with another $30,000 of technological and marine related gear from sponsors that include PIC Insurance Brokers, B&G, Jackson Electrical Industries Limited, Yachting New Zealand, Dirty Dog, Elf Oils, Musto, Mount Gay Rum, Railblaza, and PredictWind.com. The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club. Boat tracking, commentary, sked times, photos and video are available on www.coastalclassic.co.nz.