Yachting: Infamous OKI 24-hour race back on Lake Pupuke

The infamous OKI 24-hour is back again this year with great anticipation and at least a little apprehension as sailors get mentally prepared to battle the elements and sail for 24 hours throughout the night.

Dubbed as one of the world's toughest dinghy races, the OKI 24-hour tests the mettle of local and international sailors as they compete non-stop for 24 hours at iconic Lake Pupuke on Auckland's North Shore.

Since the race first began back in 1967, it has attracted sailing legends young and old in this extreme test of endurance. Previous competitors have included a who's who of NZ sailing. With the likes of Russell Coutts, Dean Barker, Ray Davies, Peter Blake as well as more recent heroes Andy Maloney and Blair Tuke.

Sailors race in crews of two per boat, with each team member sailing for a maximum of three hours before being required to rest. The winning team is the one that completes the most number of laps within the 24-hour period and includes sailors from 12 years up to 70 years of age.

The event is spilt into five categories: Open Class, Youth (under 18 years), Women's and Masters' (over 35), and Endurance athletes. A second event, the OKI 6-hour race runs just prior to the 24-hour event and is an optimist dinghy race for children aged 7-12 years.
This year a celebrity match race will be held between two Olympic hopefuls Sam Meech and Andy Maloney. They'll go head to head on Saturday from 6 -8pm in a bid to outwit and outmanoeuvre each other.

"Every year leading up to the OKI 24-hour there is a real buzz around the sailing community. Given the long history and physical challenge, it is definitely a highlight on the yachting calendar." Scott Leith, Commodore, Murrays Bay Sailing Club.

- NZ Herald

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