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NZ Ocean Racing

Auckland to Tauranga race Cooks up rivalry

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It's not exactly a fair fight on line but it might be a bit closer on handicap when Ian and Bianca Cook skipper boats in the upcoming Farmer Autovillage Auckland to Tauranga Centennial Yacht Race.

Bianca Cook and her New Zealand Ocean Racing Team will be eyeing up line honours when they race their Volvo 65 in the event while father Ian Cook will be racing the mighty champion of yesteryear Ranger.

Ranger took line honours and was third on handicap in the Auckland to Tauranga Yacht Race in 1939. The boat totally dominated all Auckland A Class yacht racing from 1938 to the late 1960s, forcing contenders for top yacht honours to get better and better.

The classic yachts, cruising division and classic launches will start on the morning of March 26 and stopover near Mercury Cove or Kennedy Bay, depending on weather conditions, and the modern yachts will start the following morning.

"The Auckland to Tauranga race is the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs a little further and will be a great training opportunity for the younger sailors," Bianca Cook said recently. "We are extremely honoured to have incredible offshore sailors here in New Zealand such as Daryl Wislang on board, who will helm this race."

On top of that, however, Cook aims to engage locals and will invite young sailors onto the boat in Tauranga to have a look around. If conditions are right, there might also be the opportunity for a sail on March 28.

“Our goal is to reignite New Zealand’s passion for ocean racing by creating a pathway for future generations of young sailors who have the ambition to race offshore," she said. "Our focus is on developing diverse grassroot talent, by providing opportunities for sailors to compete in local racing with the ultimate goal of competing in The Ocean Race.”

Cook is not the only well-known sailor tackling the Auckland to Tauranga Centennial Yacht Race, and Brian Petersen has also signalled his intention to compete in the TP52 V5.

Petersen has a long history in offshore racing, competing in five Sydney to Hobart races, four Auckland to Noumea races, five Auckland to Fiji races, the Transpac, Melbourne to Osaka (two-handed) and a host of others. On top of that, he's contested 24 Coastal Classics and 17 Auckland to Tauranga races.

Among his many successes, Petersen cites the 2017 Sydney to Hobart as a standout when Ran Tan II finished 16th on line in under two days. They got to Hobart one day ahead of schedule, meaning the crew needed to sleep on board at port, and most of the yachts that finished ahead were maxis nearly twice Ran Tan II's size.

See here for more information on the Farmer Autovillage Auckland to Tauranga Centennial Yacht Race, including notice of race and entry details.