A2B yacht race to challenge Sydney to Hobart

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 07:51 04/12/2012
Investec Loyal of Australia crosses the finish line to win the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Reuters
WE ARE LOYAL: The A2B is expected to attract teams also competing in the Sydney to Hobart race.

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A tough annual yacht race rivalling the Sydney to Hobart is to be unveiled in Auckland today.

The A2B - A being Auckland and B being Bluff - will hold its first race in late 2014.

Sponsored by Auckland's Royal Akarana Yacht Club, the Invercargill City Council and Yachting New Zealand, its backers want it to be available for sailors also taking part in the Sydney to Hobart.

A2B looks to be a gruelling event, taking yachts up to North Cape and down the western side of New Zealand, although well out in the Tasman Sea.

On paper the rhumb line lists it as 2407 kilometres, over twice the distance of the Sydney-Hobart at 1170 kilometres.

Because of the high winds and big seas of the Bass Strait, it is unlikely A2B will be seen as tougher than Sydney-Hobart which has been racing since 1945.

In 1998 severe weather hit the Sydney-Hobart, resulting in the deaths of six sailors and the sinking of five yachts.

The closest a New Zealand race has come to that danger was the 1994 Auckland to Tonga yacht race which was hit by a weather bomb, killing three people.

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