38th Gulf Classic Regatta

Dustin Wilson and Paul Weaver launching the yacht just before the start.

The annual Waikato Yacht Squadron Gulf Classic is more than just a sailing race. An event you  can make a weekend of.

What does the Gulf Classic look like from an entrant’s eyes? Here is a typical Gulf Classic weekend from my experience:  

We arrive at Maraetai Beach Boating club on Friday arvo and are greeted at the entry gate by the Commodore of the Waikato Yacht Squadron. He welcomes us, and lets us know where we can park, explains the facilities and more importantly gives directions to the bar. We find the parking spots next to the ramp and go about setting up the trailer yacht ready for tomorrow’s race…..well the skipper mostly does. The crew need to “re-hydrate” after the drive up from Hamilton.

I love hard work, I could watch it all day. You can build quite the appetite watching the skipper rig and prep the boat, once complete the team heads upstairs to the restaurant and bar. We grab a table with an amazing view over the water (literally sitting over the water). Skipper heads over to the registration table to sign us in, the crew require more “hydration” from that stair climb.

Registration time

While at the registration table we enter one of the Fineline “guess the length” competitions and be in to win some awesome new sailing rope sponsored by New Zealand’s leading cordage manufacturer Fineline Marine. There is a keeler package and a trailer yacht package on offer.

Dinner is ordered and the socialising and “hydration” continues on, at 2030 race briefing starts, we get a run down on tomorrow. For this coming event we have special spot prizes for those present at the Friday night briefing. Boom Sailing Whitianga have kindly donated vouchers for trips on their catamarans sailing out of the beautiful Mercury Bay! Including a family voucher for a sail on Fully Charged and some lucky sailor will win a ride on their foiling catamaran Excess which is an SL33 high performance racing yacht. This boat was critical for Team New Zealand in the testing and design which lead to the big 72 foot Americas Cup foiling cats in San Francisco.

When it’s time to leave we head for our accommodation which in our case, like a few other competitors it’s the boat in the carpark. Some teams have cleverly pre-booked a bach in Maraetai only walking distance from the venue.

Ready to go

Saturday morning arrives, a quick shower in the clubrooms and out we go ready for the 10 am start. The race course is based around a circumnavigation of Waiheke Island plus some other islands, depending which of the three categories you have entered (trailer yacht 40/60 mile or Keeler 85 mile).

If you are lucky enough to be back at the ramp before the bar closes you can catch up with hydration levels and if really lucky the kitchens still open so you can regain some strength with a hot meal after a big race.

Sunday morning at 10am is prize giving you don’t want to miss the amazing prizes on offer. Sponsors support the event with goodies and looking around the prize table while having some complimentary morning coffee you will see bottles of Mt Gay Rum, vouchers from North Sails, Pine Harbour Electrical, Autotrail, Crombie Lockwood and Pine Harbour Marina. Alpha Electrical, FBO Beachlands also supplied prizes and there is even an outboard motor from Eastern Marine.  

A good plan is to arrive early and enjoy a breakfast from the restaurant while overlooking yesterday’s race course. This is a good time to catch up with other competitors and share tall stories of the race exaggerating how big the waves were and how strong that wind was out there. Perhaps have another coffee to recover from last nights “hydration” session…

After prize giving its time to watch the skipper pack up the boat and help him by stowing all the prizes in your car. If you aren’t from the “big smoke” why not take the opportunity to head into the city and check out the viaduct basin, you might get to see the new Team NZ boat.

As you can see the Gulf Classic Regatta is more than just a sailing race, it’s an event you can make a whole weekend of. If you might be interested jump on Facebook Gulf Classic Regatta for information and online registration. Trailer yachts and keelers welcome (including multihulls).

The 38th Annual Gulf Classic Regatta March 6-7-8th 2020.

Leonie skippering “Sweet Surrender” a Noelex 25 from BOPTYS  (Bay of Plenty Trailer Yacht Squadron).


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