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News Corporation volvo ocean 60 takes line honours

by lizzie green on 25 Oct 2000
The News Corporation Volvo Ocean 60 took line honours in Auckland's traditional Labour Day Coastal Classic yacht race - from a record fleet of 226 competitors.

Light winds prevented a record breaking run, but easterly winds between 6 and 16 knots saw the 64ft News Corporation take the lead from the Auckland Harbour start to cross the line more than one hour ahead of it's key competitor, 53' Farr designed Georgia. News Corporation finished at the historic Northland town of Russell at 1 am, in a time of 15hrs.

The News Corporation syndicate, with a two-boat campaign, is to contest the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001-2002. "The Coastal Classic was an excellent chance to focus the crew, get some intensity into our sailing and hone the skills we've been developing over the last three months training" said skipper Jez Fanstone. "Key learnings from the race will be put to use over the next three to six months as we fine tune sail design, race technique and rigging developments."

As a V.O.60 offshore racing boat, a key facet to News Corporation's design is it's onboard water ballast. As the boat tacks from side to side, water is pumped to keep the boat as level as possible in the water. This feature, however, means News Corporation differs significantly from other competitors in the Coastal Classic. News Corporation was therefore not eligible for the prize money, or a handicap placing. Georgia, on her maiden coastal race took Division 1.

"Our objectives were to use the race as a training run," said Jez. "The crew and boat performed exceptionally well and we're looking forward to the Sydney-Hobart Race in December as another chance to stretch our legs - this time against other Volvo Ocean Race competitors."

Eight of the final twelve crew members who will compete in the Volvo Ocean Race participated in the Coastal Classic. Key local sailors including 1997-1998 Whitbread competitor, Leah Newbold, and Joey Allen and James Dag from Team New Zealand supplemented the crew. The crew for the Volvo Ocean Race, comprising experienced yachtsmen from New Zealand, Britain and the United Kingdom, will be finalised early in 2001.

The current News Corporation yacht, formerly Merit Cup, is the campaign's training boat and will be replaced by a new Farr designed V.O.60 for the Volvo Ocean Race. Construction will begin on the new News Corporation this week. Development continues on sails and riggings.

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