Nine yachts signed up for ocean race

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/05/2013
Murray Francis
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
ENTHUSIASTIC: A2B@C company director Murray Francis, of Auckland, in Bluff to meet key stakeholders in the proposed 2014 Auckland-to-Bluff yacht race and see how the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival will be pulled off.

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Nine yachts have already signed up for the proposed $1.2 million Auckland-to-Bluff yacht race next year.

A2B@C company director Murray Francis confirmed the figure yesterday during a visit to Bluff to meet key stakeholders and check out the logistics behind today's Bluff Oyster and Food Festival.

The Auckland yachting enthusiast and film producer behind The World's Fastest Indian and Two Little Boys was enthusiastic about the possibilities of the event - which could include a navy ship, a wine and food festival and ferry transport out to sea so onlookers could watch the yachts coming in - but said he was disappointed in the negative publicity the race had received so far.

The scrutiny over the public's funding of an event that would clearly benefit Southland was unexpected, he said, as it would be the longest ocean race to begin and finish in New Zealand and would draw international competitors.

The Southland Times reported this week that the Invercargill City Council's decision to contribute $100,000 to the race had not been mentioned in the council's 2013-14 draft annual plan, with council chief executive Richard King saying this was because the money was coming from the general reserves fund and would not affect next year's rate takes.

The newspaper also reported that a written submission from Mr King showed about a third of the $1.5m budgeted for the race was going to fund event organisers.

Yesterday, Mr Francis said he would be able to provide a further breakdown of those costs next week.

He said it was incorrect that he would receive $125,000 in fees if the race went ahead. The amount he would receive was less, he said, but he would not stipulate what that amount was.

Planning the A2B Ocean Race had been "a fulltime job" for the past two years, he said.

Mr King has made a written submission to Environment Southland, asking for $180,000 for moorings and infrastructure for the race.

Mr Francis was noncommittal when asked whether the $180,000 had been secured.

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said he understood the pricing of the moorings was still being worked out and the discussion was continuing.

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- The Southland Times

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