After a challenging start with a postponement on Nov 6th due to forty knot winds that created unsafe racing conditions and a lack of wind causing a delay on Nov 7th the 2014 WineWorks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race commenced at mid-morning under sunny skies and building wind.
Twenty-eight yachts and thirty Marlborough wineries were represented this year, making the 12th annual WineWorks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race the largest ever. The race is loosely based on the traditional Beaujolais Nouveau, where the first Beaujolais wines were transported from France to the UK. This race is unique in New Zealand with each yacht racing a bottle of new vintage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from a different winery across the Cook Strait to be the first to land it on the shores of Wellington.
This year’s WineWorks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race was an epic race across a demanding stretch of water with thirty to forty five km/h winds and ocean swells up to four metres. 164 sailors battled their way through the difficult seas and Spy Valley Wines gained the honours of having the first 2014 Sauvignon Blanc wine arrive in Wellington on Paradigm, skippered by David Ensor. Richelle Collier, assistant winemaker at Spy Valley Wines who was aboard Paradigm for her first sailing experience ever reported that “it was a bit rough, a never ending roller coaster through the Terawhiti rip but [the crew]always had it under control, they made it look easy.” It may have appeared plain sailing, but Paradigm and her crew had an excellent race to be the first across the line.
Gucci, skippered by Brent Dewhurst won the race carrying a bottle of Stanley Estates’ Sauvignon Blanc. Dewhurst who has sailed for many years including a round the world voyage was praised by his crew member Rob Fagan. Fagan said that “we have a good skipper…always calm and cool, never gets excited so we feel confident.” It is Gucci’s third time in the race and he knew the ropes, not needing to make too many sail changes during the race as he felt comfortable in the conditions, which proved to be a winning strategy.
The race was organised by the Waikawa Boating Club and Wine Marlborough and was complemented by a consumer event in Wellington, Pop-Up Marlborough, on Nov 6th to showcase the 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs and the best of Marlborough’s produce from the sea, land and larder.
Line Honours: Paradigm – skippered by David Ensor, carrying Spy Valley Wines
1st Gucci – skippered by Brent Dewhurst – carrying Stanley Estates
2nd Voila – skippered by David McGill and Helen Ensor – carrying Cloudy Bay
3rd Maracas – skippered by Ash Davey- carrying St Clair Family Estate
4th Beviamo – skippered by Ross Anderson – carrying Astrolabe Wines