3 Classic Yacht Collisions In 2 Weeks…….

Library image ex Ingrid Abery

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE A-CLASS CLASSIC RACE FLEET – EGOTISM, ARROGANCE OR JUST INCOMPETENCE ?


You may have missed my comments at the bottom of Mondays WW story, and over the last 48 hours it has emerged that in the last two weeks we have had three serious incidents involving three different A-Class classic yachts, I have detailed descriptions of each incident, but I’ll stay out of the technicalities. Questions of the day – is there a review underway of these incidents? who takes responsibility for the circumstances surrounding the incidents i.e. race starts and finishes? Are there health and safety procedures in place for the ‘worst case scenario’?.

Even if you put any blame to one side, 3 incidents in 2 weeks………………… something is amiss. Me thinks it is time for a fire side skippers chat on rules and good manners.


INCIDENT ONE – Mahurangi Weekend – Sunday Morning – A Class yacht (under power) collides with classic launch – I understand no apology from yacht

INCIDENT TWO – CYA Race Mahurangi > Auckland – Sunday Morning – A Class gaff yacht T-bones another vessel at the start – Other vessel on starboard – near sinking

INCIDENT THREE – CYA Round Rangitoto Yacht Race – A Class gaff yacht collides with finish boat (classic launch) – Again no apology, just laughing


The CYA has its major annual sailing regatta coming up next week – if you’re out and about in your boat- might be a good idea to fender up 😉

22-02-2021 Input From Robin Kenyon

Re Racing at the MCC regatta:
I think safety at Mahurangi was greatly improved this year by having the A class racing the outer loop first, therefore greatly reducing the time spent racing in the confines of the estuary and other racers/spectators. My big plea to the organisers would be for the MCC to affiliate themselves to Yachting New Zealand. Then the racing could be held under the more familiar (to racing and coastal sailors) Racing Rules of Sailing. This would remove a large degree of uncertainty that exists when racing at Mahurangi and help prevent a future accident in waiting. Every other race that the A class does uses these rules, not the COLREGS (except on passage races outside the hours of daylight, I believe). I appreciate that this incurs a cost to the MCC but surely the levy to YNZ is just what has to be done. The vast majority of other clubs in the country pay it.
I have raced regattas in countries all over the world and this is the only one that I have been to that uses COLREGS for daytime racing.
Uncertainty could breed the attitude amongst some that might just blag their way through a fleet rather than abiding to the very clear and proven racing rules of sailing. Stating that their will be no protests must only add to these competitors feeling untouchable.
Whilst this is only one aspect covered by the comments above (and thankfully there were no serious accidents at this years regatta yacht race) I think it has some relevance to the bigger picture. I must have done about 10 Mahurangi regattas, all racing on the A class. The heated on the water interactions for this race are often worse than any other race in our calendar.
Which is a shame for a fun event and a true highlight of the season. It doesn’t need to be that way and using the Racing Rules of Sailing can go a long way to address this. The COLREGS were never written with sailboat racing in mind. That is what the Racing Rules of Sailing are for. When skippering an A class around the harbour the skippers have enough on their plate without having the rethink the rule book.

22-02-2021 Update ex the CYA Feb Newsletter – lets hope they read this, tucked away at the bottom of the newsletter 🙂

7 thoughts on “3 Classic Yacht Collisions In 2 Weeks…….

  1. Re Racing at the MCC regatta:
    I think safety at Mahurangi was greatly improved this year by having the A class racing the outer loop first, therefore greatly reducing the time spent racing in the confines of the estuary and other racers/spectators. My big plea to the organisers would be for the MCC to affiliate themselves to Yachting New Zealand. Then the racing could be held under the more familiar (to racing and coastal sailors) Racing Rules of Sailing. This would remove a large degree of uncertainty that exists when racing at Mahurangi and help prevent a future accident in waiting. Every other race that the A class does uses these rules, not the COLREGS (except on passage races outside the hours of daylight, I believe). I appreciate that this incurs a cost to the MCC but surely the levy to YNZ is just what has to be done. The vast majority of other clubs in the country pay it.
    I have raced regattas in countries all over the world and this is the only one that I have been to that uses COLREGS for daytime racing.
    Uncertainty could breed the attitude amongst some that might just blag their way through a fleet rather than abiding to the very clear and proven racing rules of sailing. Stating that their will be no protests must only add to these competitors feeling untouchable.
    Whilst this is only one aspect covered by the comments above (and thankfully there were no serious accidents at this years regatta yacht race) I think it has some relevance to the bigger picture. I must have done about 10 Mahurangi regattas, all racing on the A class. The heated on the water interactions for this race are often worse than any other race in our calendar.
    Which is a shame for a fun event and a true highlight of the season. It doesn’t need to be that way and using the Racing Rules of Sailing can go a long way to address this. The COLREGS were never written with sailboat racing in mind. That is what the Racing Rules of Sailing are for. When skippering an A class around the harbour the skippers have enough on their plate without having the rethink the rule book.

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  2. Further to Matt Urquhart’s comment, a few years back some friends were going through the Tiri Passage in their 8-knot launch when they became aware of loud shouting from behind. Two big keelers (NOT classics, I’m pleased to say) were overtaking and yelling at the couple to “get the f**** out of the way!” Seems the keeler skippers were not aware that overtaking vessels (power OR sail!) must yield right-of way to the vessel being overtaken. The vessel being overtaken must in turn maintain its course and speed, not “get the f**** out of the way.
    RRS applies only to vessels in a race, and they must observe normal Colregs with other vessels not in that race.

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  3. Yes during the Mahurangi Regatta we were overtaken on the wind by a certain A class. As the overtaking windward boat I thought they were supposed to keep clear. But no they made it quite clear in a very arrogant and humorless way and a comment or two that they as the star of the Regatta had total right of way and we should get the f—- out of it.

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  4. “Shouldn’t incident reports have been generated and forwarded to Maritime New Zealand?”

    Technically yes, “Section 31 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994 requires the master/skipper of a New Zealand ship, or foreign ship in New Zealand waters, to notify Maritime NZ of any accident, incident or serious harm injury as soon as practicable. This requirement includes recreational vessels.

    Failing to comply with a requirement to notify is an offence.”

    Refer to “terms and conditions” here: https://services.maritimenz.govt.nz/incident/

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  5. Been there, done that! About 3 years ago “Sirena” was start boat for a yacht race when a yacht doing a practice start lost control in a gust and came in through my cabin side. Unlike the incidents above, though, the yacht’s skipper was most apologetic, to the point of coming round and helping to effect temporary repairs when we got back to our berth. It would seem that some of these classic skippers are as arrogant and unskilled as many of the newby skippers of big Maieras and Rivitimos.

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  6. Shouldn’t incident reports have been generated and forwarded to Maritime New Zealand. Just because commercial vessels are not involved skippers should be responsible for their actions and act in a seamanlike manner showing regard to other seafarers wether they be driving super yachts or canoes.

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