Any start under kite is spectacular but it will be even more dramatic when a record 178 boats compete tomorrow in the third round of Lewmar Triple Series in Auckland.
Tomorrow's forecast of a 10-15 knot south-westerly and sunshine should dish up perfect conditions for the final race of the Triple Series. It's only appropriate given there will be a record number of entries - the previous record was 174 in 2008.
Short-handed sailing continues to grow in popularity as competitors embrace the more hands-on nature of the sport.
"It's far easier to organise a mate to go yachting than organise a crew," Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand chairman Neil Hilder said. "It's a different style of racing to fully-crewed boats because it's just you and one other person. You have only yourselves to blame if things go wrong.
"There's also quite good camaraderie in the fleet and short-handed sailing has really gained some momentum this year with more boats."
That was graphically highlighted when next year's Round North Island Race sold out inside one hour and there's still a waiting list for the event.
As many as 60 division one and two boats will start together at 9am tomorrow morning off North Head, with staggered starts for the smaller boats to follow.
All manner of boats will compete across the 12 divisions, from Awen, an Imoca 60, down to a collection of Farr 727s and there will also be 15 Young 88s and 19 Pied Pipers.
Among those racing on a Piedy will be two-time Olympic medallist Jo Aleh and also racing tomorrow will be former Etchell world champion Alistair Gair.
The inclusion of a two-handed offshore keelboat event in the 2024 Paris Olympics has given short-handed sailing further impetus but it's not the main reason most compete.
"It's great fun," enthused Hilder, who will be competing tomorrow with his son on Lewmar, a Platu 25.
Tomorrow's race is 50 nautical miles for bigger boats and 26 nm for smaller boats and a prizegiving for the entire Triple Series will be held in three weeks' time.
- Pic: Former Olympic gold medallist Jo Aleh will be on the start line tomorrow in her Pied Piper Puddleduck. Photo: Suellen Hurling / Live Sail Die.
- See the video below to see what happened in race two.