Foiling fanatics kite up coast in yacht race

Finish line on back of support boat (from left) Luke Wigglesworth, Matt Taggart, Morgan Coster and Jim Burcham.

In an event reserved for the prestigious yachting community, two Ozone New Zealand kite foilers set themselves an ambitious goal and unofficially took part in the PIC Coastal Classic yacht race from Devonport, Auckland to Russell.

Ozone co-founder Matt Taggart and Sam Bullock hit the water with their support crews to attempt the 119 nautical mile yacht race over Labour weekend.

For Taggart, taking part in the race was a bucket list dream since 2012 and crossing the finishing line with a time of 6 hours and 45 minutes, beating the record-holding Frank Racing Trimaran by 23 minutes was a highlight. Fellow kite foiler Sam Bullock crossed in the line in 6 hours and 32 minutes.

Taggart averaged a speed of 22.6 knots with a top speed recorded at 29.3 knots and while his first thoughts on landing the kite in Russell were “never again”, after a hot shower and big feed he and his support crew were already talking about ‘next time’.

Re-capping on the event via social media after the event Taggart shared, “we made it. 6.45 hours to finish the 220km course of spectacular coastline, not that I had any bandwidth to take it in.

“Full-on concentration for that time, my brain is pretty fried. On my incredible R1V2 15m and my Mike’s Lab foil and Boards Unlimited board. Holy moly what an adventure. Started at 10am, finished at 4:45pm without a break. Head down, loads of foil outs at full speed... 45% of the course was upwind, legs were screaming. So stoked to have ticked that one off my bucket list.  Huge thanks to my support crew Morgan, Jim and Luke, there is no way I could have done this without your safety backup and encouragement.”

There were some sobering moments amongst the action. Checking in with his crew upon seeing Cape Brett on the distant horizon only to be told he was only half way from reaching the headland; to almost hitting a Great White Shark after his first gybe into the Bay of Islands, won’t be forgotten.

Race conditions were far from perfect, but Matt says he was ecstatic to have beaten the Oram 60’ Frank Racing Trimaran. “It’s such an incredible, powerful, legendary ocean-going racing yacht with an incredible history of race wins around the world. It certainly was a motivator for myself and Sam to keep pushing hard with the dream to beat her across the line.”

Hopefully we can work with Yachting New Zealand and satisfy the incredible PIC Coastal Classic Race organisers so we can work towards being able to sign up as an official entry. Obviously the only way a kiter can race is to have incredible safety backup and support which we organised ourselves at our own cost. I couldn’t have done it without my support crew,”  said Matt.

The Coastal Classic Yacht Race from Devonport Wharf to Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands is  New Zealand’s premier fleet yacht race and has been held annually at Labour weekend since its inception  in 1982.

If you are interested in learning to Kitesurf, Hydrofoil (Surf and Kite) then contact the friendly team at Ozone NZ with their Ozone flagship store,  9 Bow St, Raglan. Phone 021 0244 7902


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