Dramatic race for Kiwi sailor

19:25, Sep 11 2012
sailing stand
Taranaki sailor Paul Moriarty, back left, faced tough conditions in a gruelling race from Auckland to Noumea.

An almost 2000-kilometre voyage from Auckland to Noumea rates as one of New Plymouth sailor Paul Moriarty's most exciting.

Moriarty, 22, has just returned to Taranaki after competing in an Australia-New Zealand yacht race called Sail Noumea - from Auckland to the Pacific island.

Despite finishing last, Moriarty said seasoned veterans described the marathon race as one of the roughest in 20 years.

Five of the 17 New Zealand yachts retired because of storm damage, the Taranaki yachtsman said.

Winds for the June race were initially predicted at 30 to 40 knots.

However, Moriarty said the wind speed was more like 60 knots, with swells reaching almost eight metres.


"What was meant to be a five- day voyage took almost 10 days," said Moriarty, who sailed on Kiwi yacht Iolanthe II.

"It was my first off-shore race, so I didn't really have anything to compare it to.

"Looking back, it was pretty dramatic, we were on edge the whole time."

Moriarty said Iolanthe II, which was to be delivered to Thailand after the race, was badly damaged after a two-day storm.

"The boat was unprepared for the conditions," he said.

"Most of the crew came down with seasickness, and we thought the boat was going to sink at one point."

The crew hitched a ride home on fellow Kiwi yacht Kia Kaha, with a quick stop-off in Australia.

Moriarty, who grew up surrounded by boats and yachts, said the dramatic voyage had not put him off sailing.

He planned to spend the summer working with Yachting New Zealand.

Sail Noumea is held every four years.

The event is a joint venture between the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and the Royal Arkana Yacht Club in Auckland.

Jimmy Hick is a Witt journalism student

Taranaki Daily News