Organisers of the long-established Coastal Classic yacht race from Auckland to Russell over Labour Weekend were expecting the number of entries for this year's race to be well down due to border closures. It meant no international yachts would be in the line-up.
Instead, around the same number of entries as last year had already been received two weeks prior to the start and with a few more latecomers anticipated.
Around 170 yachts of various shapes and sizes will be competing in one of the country's most prestigious yachting events. That's well ahead of the number of entries in the first race held in 1982 when just 12 yachts were entered.
The inaugural race record was set by Krisis, skippered by Duncan Stuart, who crossed the line in 18 hours. The record last year was set by the giant 70' trimaran, Beau Gest, that won the event in 5 hours 37 minutes.
However this year, for the first time in 10 years, none of the big trimarans have entered, although there are 15 slightly smaller multihull boats that could see one of them come close to that record.
Erle Williams from Okiato is a favourite for outright line honours in the Murray Ross-designed catamaran Apache. Most of the crew have America's Cup, Whitbred and Volvo round-the-world experience. They will still be hard-pressed to stay ahead of Cation (Owen Rutter) and Kotuku (Peter Geary) in their multihulls and with crews who have similar international competitive know-how.
By far the largest number of entries are in monohulls – 125 in total with some late entries still expected before departure from Auckland on Friday, October 23.
Of those, the NZ Ocean Racing Team entry skippered by Bianca Cook and Daryl Wislang could be among the quickest into Russell if conditions are favourable. Cook is hoping to contest the 2021 Ocean Race and become the first Kiwi woman to skipper a boat in the around-the-world event.
Three monohulls are entered with all-women crews skippered by Lynn Peat (Activator), Kelley Wigton (Oracle) and Gillian Williams (Ika Moana II).
There are 25 boats entered in the Cruising Rally division designed for non-competitive "weekend warrior" sailors. Even so, three of these entries will represent the Royal New Zealand Navy.
The PIC Coastal Classic is New Zealand's largest coastal race and one of the biggest of its type in the world. The event has marked the start of summer racing for the past 38 years.
Kerikeri student wins auctioneering competition
Kerikeri High School student Nicolas Powell has won the 2020 REINZ Auctioneering Schools' Championship.
The competition started three years ago and Kerikeri has been well represented each year.
Winning the inaugural competition in 2018 was Max Hart from Kerikeri High School and runner-up was Max Hittle from Springbank School. Max Hart entered again in 2019 and was runner-up.
Nicolas Powell is a Year 11 student. He is in the 1st XI football team, the 1st XI cricket team, he's in the jazz band and is a librarian, in addition to other extracurricular roles both at school and in the wider community.
Three schools and 12 students entered the competition this year - Kerikeri High School, Epsom Girls' Grammar School and Diocesan School for Girls. Not surprisingly, girls outnumbered boys nine to three.
Chief judge Kerry Greenhaigh said the competition is a vehicle for students to "pit themselves against each other in the quest for greater self-confidence, self-esteem and self-belief".
Disappearing signs of the times
Thieves and vandals have been active in the Bay of Islands in recent weeks, nicking various roadside signs from Russell, Kerikeri and Whangaruru, or trashing them for no apparent purpose.
Two weeks ago a new billboard in Orongo Bay near Russell advising that kiwi live in the area was cut down and has vanished without a trace.
David McKenzie is chairman of the Russell Landcare Trust that erected the new sign.
"The previous Department of Conservation sign had upset some dog owners who maintained dogs are not the only animals killing kiwi and that's why the trust decided a new sign was necessary.
"We were very careful with the language used and a lot of consideration went into the wording," he said.
The new sign asking cat and dog owners to control their pets was erected in July and at 3 metres x 2 metres is not insubstantial. Mr McKenzie said whoever stole it needed a big enough car to carry it off. Police have been informed.
Following a bulletin posted on Facebook's Russell Noticeboard page appealing for witnesses or clues, several posts revealed other signs (not necessarily about kiwi) have lately either been stolen or rubbished.
One post estimated 21 signs from Kapiro Rd to Opito Bay near Kerikeri have been trashed. Another post said numerous road signs around Whangaruru have been chopped down at the pole.
David McKenzie is keen to hear from anyone who might have information on who stole the kiwi sign. Phone 021 657 493.
New walking track for Russell
A new walking and cycle track has been opened up in Russell. Spectacular views from the track take in Cape Brett to the Black Rocks and back to Te Wahapu and Paihia.
The track begins near the refuse transfer station in Florance Ave and crosses part of the property owned by former world No 1 tennis player from Austria, Thomas Muster, who has given permission for the land to be used by the public.
It is currently a one-way track (one way in and the same way out) but that may alter in the future. It was "test walked" for the first time by participants in the Bay of Islands Walking Weekend, October 16-17.
Ranui of the Hokianga
One man falls in love and the beneficiaries are locals and visitors to the Hokianga.
Dimitri Edmonds of Kohukohu, former lodge owner, musician, and mariner, first saw the wooden ferry Ranui on Trade Me several years ago and simply had to have her.
"She was near the end of her five-year survey so we had to have a new survey done and renew the epic but surprisingly helpful Maritime NZ Maritime Operator Safety System, MOSS.
"We had to make quite a few changes to comply but she had spent most of her life moving people so most of the groundwork had been done," he said.
The 32' ferry has quite a history. She was built in Auckland in 1945 as an open boat with a small cabin and originally called El Alamein. She was donated to the Rotorua Convalescent Hospital by the Patriotic Fund of the Joint Council of the Red Cross and St John and used as a therapeutic excursion boat for World War II recuperating soldiers.
It was part of their rehabilitation easing back into civilian life and El Alamein became a familiar sight on Lake Rotoiti carrying up to 40 solders, many in wheelchairs.
As the number of ex-service patients dropped off, she was sold to Ron Martin who trucked her to Lake Taupo and it was probably Martin who changed her name to Ranui in 1949. He built a full cabin on top and used her as a charter boat.
Jim Storey then bought her and for many years she was a commercial charter for fishing or tour excursions. In 1980 Graham Twiss purchased her and for another 34 years, Ranui continued what Storey had started on Lake Taupō.
A few owners and a side trip to Tauranga later, she arrived at the Hokianga around four years ago and is now owned and operated by Craig Pinkney and Brian Crooks. Over this winter she had a thorough refit that included major rewiring. Edmonds is still a skipper and tour organiser when demand requires.
Ranui of the Hokianga can carry up to 23 passengers. She extends the Coast to Coast cycle trail that ends in Horeke by ferrying cyclists and their bikes to Kohukohu or Rawene.
On request she can tie up at the oldest surviving hotel in New Zealand. Horeke Hotel is famous for its fish and chips and a free and unsurpassed view of New Zealand's fourth-largest harbour.
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