Marlborough yachties ready for wine race
A record number of yachties will be ferrying bottles of sauvignon blanc across the Cook Strait on Friday as part of an annual wine race.
The WineWorks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race, which started in 2001, pairs Marlborough wineries with yachts in a race to deliver new season sauvignon blanc to the capital.
The race will this year will see 39 yachts take part along with 29 wineries.
Last year, the race was won by Stanley Estates Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which was carried by skipper Brent Dewhurst aboard Gucci.
Because of a handicap system, the boat that crosses the finish line first is not necessarily the winner.
However, there was a Line Honours trophy, which race committee chairwoman Juliett Abbot said was hotly contested.
Last year, it was won by a Wellington yacht, leading to more yachts from the capital signing up this year, she said.
Oldsmobile skipper Aaron Blackmore, who was carrying wine from Villa Maria, said the race was becoming more and more prestigious and that winning was a big deal in Picton.
It was a good way to bring together the wine and sailing industries, he said.
"Wine and sailing, although they shouldn't go together, they're a great combination."
The race was postponed last year because of severe winds, with the skippers battling 45kmh gusts and 4 metre seas when it was resumed.
However, conditions looked good this year, Abbot said.
A southerly front was supposed to die down on Thursday, with a northerly wind, expected to blow between five to 10 knots, building throughout race day on Friday.
Wine Marlborough event manager Samantha Young said the race provided fantastic exposure for new vintage Marlborough wines.
The race would be followed by a tasting event at the Wharewaka Function Centre on the Wellington waterfront, where wineries could display their 2015 sauvignon blanc as well as two other varieties.
*Tickets to the Taste of Marlborough post-race event are available at here.
- The Marlborough Express