Around world yacht to visit Tauranga

By Kelly Exelby

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton will rewind the clock three decades when he brings their around-the-world race yacht to Tauranga in 10 days during sea trialsalong the east coast.
Tauranga is the first stop-over for Camper, named after the Spanish footwear company with which Team NZ is mounting the Volvo Ocean Race campaign.
The 70ft (23.3m) Volvo Open 70-class yacht has been trialing on the Waitemata Harbour. It leaves on April 25 for Tauranga and will also call at Gisborne, Wellington, Lyttelton and Dunedin.
The 38,000 mile race begins off Alicante, Spain, in October and finishes off Galway in Ireland in July next year. The fleet will spend three weeks over March and April in Auckland.
Camper, being helmed by Aussie Chris Nicholson, needs to complete a 2000 nautical mile voyage to qualify for the Volvo.
Dalton said yesterday they were keen to preserve the tradition of taking the around-the-world yachts to as many ports as possible to engage the public.
"It's cool for the team that we're the first New Zealand flagged entry, built and crewed, since New Zealand Endeavour, which came to the Bay of Plenty as well.
"In 1981 Peter Blake started the trend of taking Whitbread around-the-world boats to the public, who would pay $1-$2 to climb on board, lay down in the bunks, push a few buttons and spin the winches - it was the start of a love affair.
"Things changed as the America's Cup came on and the around-the-world race was almost forgotten, partly because New Zealand wasn't in it."
People familiar with the old ocean yachts would be staggered at how much they'd changed.
"They've evolved into seriously quick and highly technical machines, although the aspects that drew in the public and the New Zealanders sailing the yachts has never changed - icebergs are still hard if you run into them, the Southern Ocean's still really cold, freeze-dried food never tastes good and when you're wet you're really wet."
In Tauranga on April 26, Camper will berth at Salisbury Wharf for four hours from 8am, with the public allowed on board from 9am to 11am.

It will then moor at Sulphur Pt until 5pm.
Dalton said Team NZ were "getting closer" to making an announcement about whether they would definitely participate in the 2013 America's Cup.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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