Boats from the Bay of Islands picked up top placings in the grueling Auckland to Noumea yacht race.
The fleet set off at noon on June 2 with not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind, definitely not good for the start of an off-shore race.
Seventeen yachts, including four from the Bay of Islands, waited for the gun and the beginning of their adventure.
Cotton Blossom, a Bruce Farr 55 built in 1979, skippered by owner Doug France and Kia Kaha, a TP52 sailed by Russell Coutts in 2005, now owned and skippered by Chris Hornell, were two of the Northland contingent.
M1, a Murray Ross design built in 1987 set off with owner and skipper Craig Partridge and partners Axel Jepsen and Dave Austin.
The fourth Northland boat was Rikki, a new Reichel Pugh 42, owned and skippered by Ray Haslar.
The seas soon became lumpy and winds variable reaching 25-30 knots and over 40 knots on the Monday evening.
Crews were tested to capacity with five boats retiring, including Cotton Blossom, which was unable to continue because of severe seasickness.
Beau Geste with 18 crew on board suffered structural damage and also retired, limping to safe waters off Norfolk Island.
Prizes were brought home to the Bay of Islands with Rikki second on IRC rating with a time of six days two hours 33 minutes and 16 seconds and Kia Kaha third.
Rikki skipper Haslar says: "This win is more about crew stamina in extreme conditions, the continual pounding, living in wet weather gear, sleeping on wet bunks only a couple of hours at a time if you were lucky, missing meals because you just couldn't balance to eat – yep a bloody good crew."
- Bay Chronicle