How much better does it get for Windcraft boat owners than to compete in the magnificent waters of the Hauraki Gulf with a fleet of 37 yachts – all for the sheer joy of sailing.

The Windcraft Owners Rally fleet of Hanse, Moody and Dehler dominated the seascape with a combination of casual and competitive yachties racing leisurely around the untouched of islands of the Hauraki Gulf in ridiculously pristine waters.

This year’s Trophy Race kicked off in perfect conditions with sunshine and moderate to light breezes all the way from the start at Torbay to the finish at stunning Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island.  

Dom Lowe, Windcraft Yachts New Zealand says, ‘we chose to run with a Mark Foy start where boats commence racing in size specific divisions – the slower boats first with the faster boats to follow, to ensure a less crowded start and an exciting finish.  It worked really well with a mix of most divisions and boats ranging from 34 to 57 feet all finishing at a similar time’.

Mainsails and self-tackers were the go with standard headsails and mains for the Dehlers.  Everyone embraced the ‘if in doubt keep out’ rule and there was not a glitch in sight during the 20nm course which took 4-5 hours to complete.

Mark Yates owner of Hanse 415 ‘Manawa’ had a brilliant time and appreciated the relaxed racing style with family and friends instead of being in full throttle racing mode.  He says, ‘we were on one tack the whole way, so it was very uncomplicated, easy sailing even though there was a bit of a tide to contend with through the Tiri channel. We even saw dolphins – three of them were swimming with the bow wave for about five minutes near Kawau island – the younger female crew were so excited’.

Proud winner of the Trophy Race perpetual cup, Mark attributes his success to the amount of sailing he has done over the past few weeks and says, ‘I have come to know my Hanse very well and I think that is one of the reasons for our win.  And it’s always my personal challenge to beat any Australians in the fleet. Even though Ric Hawkins was the only one, we beat him, so I was very happy’.

Chris Barlow won his division single handed on Hanse 455 ‘Diva La Vida’ and says, ‘I sailed one up as I often do because the boat is so easy to handle.   The winds were very light towards the second half of the race and I had to concentrate to get every little bit out of my Hanse that I could. I enjoyed the casual and relaxed style of racing so much that it has inspired me to look at doing some casual cruising racing on a more regular basis’.

It’s All Part of The Windcraft Service:

As part of Windcraft’s service to their community of boat owners, Ric Hawkins, Windcraft Yachts Australia, travels over the ditch every year to help competitors with things such as ease of handling, berthing and performance tweaking.  He also offers tips and tricks to save time and frustration, making for a more gratifying experience during the rally and beyond.

And Ric is available to sail with any owner who needs some guidance.  He says, ‘New Zealand is quite different as sailing out of Auckland and around the islands can be tricky.  It’s a learning experience, and once conquered, can really build confidence, so I’m here to help’.

Dom says, ‘a lot goes on behind the scenes to ensure that when an owner is ferried to the shore, they can stroll up the beach and enjoy a drink on ice while they take in the view – the flotilla of Hanse, Moody and Dehler yachts in the bay.  Thank you to Vagn Lewisham – safety boat #1, Patrick Reddick and Andre Hubner – Safety boat/support boat #2 and Carole Noffke the hostess with the mostest. A great effort by a great team’.

Outdoor Celebrations:

Windcraft is serious about fun and delight in bringing their family together for a good time.  

The horse-shoe shaped Mansion House Bay is very remote and only accessible by water. It’s a great anchorage and well sheltered so it was the perfect venue. Once moored Windcraft ferried everyone onto Kawau Island to begin the celebrations.   Dom says, ‘I thought wow, how beautiful is this. The bay looked like a city of lights with all the boats lit up, it was a real moment’.

The scene was set with a beautiful candle lit marquee on the lawn overlooking the bay with live music playing in the background.

Chris Barlow says, ‘Windcraft always put on a fantastic event – it was a lot of fun and well organized.   It’s great to have a group of like-minded Windcraft owners together to talk shop and swap stories – it was brilliant and there was such a sense of community and comradery’.  

Windcraft owners, crew and in some cases, friends and family enjoyed a stunning night of celebration and fun with a fully catered feast, flowing drinks, prize giving and fantastic company.

And off course the tradition of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand continued well into the night with Mark Yates announcing, ‘not only were there wild peacocks and weka’s running around, we also saw a stray Aussie – Ric Hawkins.  Poor Ric was made to wear a silly hat all night. Luckily, he has a good sense of humor!

Winners and Sponsors:

First – Trophy Race Perpetual Trophy – Mark and Penny Yates, Hanse 415 ‘Manawa’.

Second – Harry and Simone Alderson, Dehler 38 ‘Dirty Harry’.

Third – Helene Winter, Hanse 370e ‘Vivo’.

Dom arranged an impressive line-up of sponsors so a huge thank you from Windcraft and the competitors for their support and generosity:

  • Above and Below Marine: Voucher towards boat detailing and/or antifouling.
  • North Sails:  Vouchers and gifts
  • Rigging Shop:  A rig tunes
  • Chains Ropes and Anchors:  Voucher
  • Highfield/Aakron:  Voucher towards a tender  
  • Safety at Sea yachting bundle
  • Gulf Harbour Marina:  Haul out and wash vouchers
  • Boating New Zealand:  Subscription
  • Club Marine:  Contribution to the bar

The New Zealand Windcraft owners rally really is the embodiment of everything the Windcraft community stands for – bringing the community together to experience the joy of sailing with like-minded owners.