North Sails LOFT NEWS


It’s not just about the racing

📸 Lissa Photography

Bay of Islands Sailing Week may be the biggest regatta of its kind in country, but anyone who’s competed there know it’s not just about the racing. This year the regatta attracted the largest fleet in its 18-year history, but while there was plenty of action on the water, for many sailors just sailing the beautiful waters of the Bay is reward in itself. 

Just 37 boats competed in the first event, back in 2003, but numbers have swelled as the word spread about the regatta’s combination of close competition, champagne sailing conditions and social events. In 2020 there were more than 140 entries, ranging from sports boats (which also recorded a record fleet, of 14 boats) up to the big guns in the A division.

Many boats competing in the regatta sported North Sails, including Elliott1350 Fiction, which had a new 3Di main and jib, and TP52 Mayhem, which won A division on line. In the B division, Ker 40 Icebreaker, sporting a new 3Di code zero with a Helix load-sharing luff, won on line and the South Pacific PHRF championships, while Shaw 7 Angry Dragon finished tied for line honours in the sports boat division with Bieker 650 Ghost Rider. 

The North Sails team were among those enjoying the perfect sea-breeze conditions, including sales and marketing manager Andrew Wills, whose “Bay week” story perhaps sums up the spirit of the regatta. Wills sailed aboard Swan 54 Coco with North Sails customers Alex and Jacqui Morcom, who had recently sailed the new boat from Finland to New Zealand.

“They had bought the boat in Europe and got a crew to sail it to the Caribbean, where we got them set up with some new sails,” Wills says. “Then they sailed it the rest of the way here themselves, through the Panama Canal into the Pacific, and arrived here in November.”

“They weren’t sure what to do next, so we suggested Bay of Islands Sailing Week, even though they had never done any racing — we reasoned that if they’d got the boat this far, they should be able to get it around a race course. And they did a great job.”

Coco finished third on line and sixth out of 20 boats on PHRF in the Island Racing B division, but for Wills the highlight was being able to share the regatta with his two sons, aged 6 and 8, who sailed with him on Coco.

North Sails has been a sponsor of Bay of Islands Sailing Week since 2004, and general manager Richard Bicknell says the company is proud to continue to support the iconic event.

“We’re also happy to provide on-site help for any of the boats during the event, out of our loft at Opua, led by Roger Hall,” says Bicknell. “It’s amazing for us to see how the regatta has been growing every year – the organising team have done a great job over the years, and this year was no exception.”

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