Wine-racers' eyes on wind

Pacific Eagle
Pacific Eagle

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race organisers are hoping the blustery Cook Strait gales from Saturday will be long gone by the start of the annual race on Thursday morning.

Race committee chairwoman Juliet Abbott said 18 boats and 19 wineries have so far registered for the 2012 race.

More boats were expected to take part, but 120kmh (65 knot) winds through Cook Strait on Saturday kept many Wellington Yacht Club boats berthed in the North Island.

Ms Abbott said conditions are expected to be a lot calmer for Thursday's race, with northwesterlies of 49kmh forecast.

The race will be cancelled if winds exceed 55kmh, though this has never happened in the event's 11-year history.

The race from Picton to Wellington was started in 2001 by Ian Blowers, who worked for Wine Marlborough. It celebrates the release of the new vintage of Marlborough sauvignon blanc and its delivery to the markets in the North Island and around the world, she said.

A dozen wines from each winery are put on a boat. The maker usually remains secret until the end of the race. The winning yacht shares honours with the wine it transports.

More wineries and yachts are welcome to register. See the website, or email Juliet: .com

The Marlborough Express