Today LSD received a call up to step on board the Orma 60 Team Australia (TA) in a face off race against Team Vodafone Sailing (TVS) on the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.
Team Australia, hot off their record creating Tasman crossing, who have been enjoying the local sites and highlights of Kiwiland since they arrived last Saturday, received an offer from TVS to go head to head in a short sharp harbour race, which they graciously accepted.
Now TA, as the name suggests, is from Australia. There wasn’t a lot of local Auckland knowledge on hand so they did a quick bit of recruiting.
Mike Sanderson. Yeah, he’s ok. He does know how to sail around the world, and has become a bit of a winner in the Elliott 5.9 class. He’s a Kiwi, so should know the harbour marks. Sanderson, you’re on.
Dean Barker. I know he sailed a P-Class from Murray’s Bay Sailing Club back in the day, and has done the odd America’s Cup campaign. Yeah he should be alright. Barker, you’re on.
Upon arriving at Silo Marina where TVS and TA were lined up I was a little bit in awe of the whole thing. These two Orma 60′s are quite impressive when there is just one of them, but with two lined up, it was quite a site to see. And then Martin Tasker and his trusty sidekick arrived with their camera’s and mics and it was on. Simon Hull (skipper TVS) was interviewed, he had a lot to say, and the big cheeky grin that he carries around was there in all it’s glory.
“I think local knowledge will go a long way today, but TA has Moose (Mike Sanderson) on board. He knows way more than me!” chuckled Hull.
Sean Langman (skipper TA) was next and played the AUS v. NZ card.
“Rivalry between AUS and NZ goes back a long way so we are pretty excited about this line up. The boats are quite comparable under the Orma 60 rule, but we’ve both made mods and given the boats a bit of surgery, so who know’s how we’re going to go! But we do have Moose on board. He know this harbour pretty well,” said Langman.
Langman was also pretty pumped to have Kiwi yachting celebrity Dean Barker on board for the afternoon’s match up.
“Yeah we have Deano on board. That’s pretty cool,” said Langman.
Then Barker was interviewed. We’re not sure what was discussed between Tasker and the Team New Zealand lad, but we’re guessing they just caught up after their recent “holiday” to San Francisco.
The media fluff aside and the race was on. At the start it was TA that held TVS out resulting in a large fog horn being heard on board the big red raft. It could have been Hull, but it was hard to be sure.
Moose checked the course, again.
TA scooted off with speed and brilliant boat handing skills with Barker showcasing his talent as a bowman.
At this point Moose was assessing the course sheet again and checking that TA were heading in the right direction. As TA pulled further away from TVS there was a nice feeling of satisfaction on board the Aussie tri.
When TVS started zooming towards us at a great speed and on a different angle, everyone realised that Moose was reading the course upside down. This time it was TVS that were in front and with the local pack of regulars on board, they headed in the right direction, and in front of TA, and then we waved goodbye as they hit the turning mark near Rangitoto Light.
The breeze was up and down and side to side making it tough for TA to catch up. That’s ok. They could have this one. It’s the Coastal Classic on Friday that really matters! Both boats seemed very evenly matched, but they are not one-design. With a few different odds and ends like sails, reefs and foil configurations it’s unsure who will come out on top for the great Kiwi race.
After the race we look some time to chat with Dean Barker about what other sports he is interested in.
“I really enjoy a golf and to kick a soccer ball around,” he said with a smile. But ultimately, yachting is his favourite, even after the 34th America’s Cup when things really didn’t go in favour of Team New Zealand.
“The support and encouragement we have received since coming home has been amazing and it wasn’t what we were expecting,” said Barker.
“The way New Zealander’s have supported us with fundraising has been overwhelming and it’s great to be home where we can work hard on keeping the team together.”
When asked why he was on board Team Australia instead of the Kiwi boat Team Vodafone Sailing, Barker responded with “Moose gave me the call up and it sounded like a bit of fun!”
And it was. It was heaps of fun.
For LSD this was an awesome experience. It definitely wasn’t about winning, although don’t get me wrong, it would have been nice to cross the line ahead of TVS! It was about grabbing an opportunity that may be once in a lifetime.
Special thanks must go to regular LSD contributors Lisa Ratcliff and Zoe Wilde for making it happen :-)
I had my gopro strapped to my head for the race. That footage is coming soon. In the meantime, check out the happy snaps that I captured during the match up.