The 119nm Pic Coastal Classic was held in New Zealand last week from 23-24 October 2020. The race begins in Auckland and concludes at Russell.

Romanza, the Rapido 60 was there and finished 5th on the water – but won the multihull division on corrected time. Co owner and skipper, Dougall Love, has very kindly done a write up of the race and it is published below.

This year’s Coastal Classic has been one of the lightest races on record, but we easily managed to be one of the only 15 per cent of finishers within the time limit and our 5th on the water was a good achievement. There’s always bragging rights if you finish in daylight too, so it’s now two out of two races we’ve achieved that. Oh, wait, that’s supposed to be on race day, not the day after!

After a good start, we rapidly picked our way through the 170+ other starters as most of them were still within an easy commute of the start line – despite their respective divisions starting either 15 or 30 minutes ahead of us. We also managed to outsmart our direct competitors with some early tactics regardless of them being loaded with Whitbread Round the World geriatrics and local sailing legends. We made good progress upwind using our Code Zero sheeted well inboard and although this pointed us a couple of clicks lower than some boats, it was our fastest mode and one we used most of the way up the coast.

It was very long haul punctuated by some short tacks to clear the bits of New Zealand that kept on appearing ahead for some unknown reason. We did particularly well on one offshore tack somewhere around midnight about 20 miles South of Cape Brett, which is the turning point into the Bay of Islands. At that time, we were matching or beating our closest competition, being Apache which is a 6 tonne 55ft cat and Cation, which is a 65ft all-carbon cat.

We match Apache pretty much for waterline length, but she is a lot lighter and Erle Williams, ex Whitbread legend and the owner, stripped her completely to the extent that his wife was complaining afterwards of the ‘boat junk’ filling up their house! Cation is just a massive platform with a massive sail area and in very sloppy seas by Cape Brett when we were rolling the wind out of our sails and drifting with the tide, she slipped slowly by.

Once into the Bay of Islands, it was eased sheets with our very large “A” sail up and being lighter, Apache slowly caught us which was frustrating but nothing we could do.

As daybreak arrived we saw her parked in glass about 200 meters ahead and set about overtaking if we could. Unfortunately, a puff filled in enough for them to just beat us across the line, but neither Cation nor Apache had enough to beat us on corrected time! So Romanza takes her first Coastal Classic win and adds her name to the very illustrious list of winners on the trophy.

Jaz and I were really pleased with the performance of our crew, all of whom are friends rather than professionals, and more significantly with the performance of Romanza.

Prior to the race, there were many ‘expert’ comments about how we’d struggle to match other boats in the forecast light winds, to which we just nodded and said ‘you’re probably right’ – as ya do! But having spent more time sailing Romanza than any of them, I wasn’t at all surprised that we were right up there and beating most boats. Her performance was impressive and although we worked hard as a crew, everyone had a great time and finished relaxed, well-fed and comfortable.

We enjoyed the trip home over the next two days too, relaxing in beautiful sunny weather.

We came via an overnight stop at Kawau Island, which was full of boats taking the opportunity to escape Auckland with no Covid restrictions in place.

In these times we’re very privileged here in NZ and extremely grateful for the opportunity to do what we love.

Lunch aboard Romanza
A delicious lunch of salmon and bacon wraps aboard Romanza during the PIC Coastal Classic. Click to play video.