Pelagian Sails in the Two-Handed Round New Zealand Race

Kurt Boyle celebrated his 35th birthday on board his Stewart 34 Pelagian by tossing off the dock lines from Westhaven Marina,and along with crew mate Matt Burkhardt, starting a 3,000+ mile, four legged race that will circumnavigate New Zealand.  This is the first time in 21 years that the Shorthanded Sailing Association of New Zealand has run this extreme challenge of skill, will, seaworthiness and some might say, sanity.  With a couple of ocean passages under his safety harness and plans of extensive ocean cruising on the horizon, Kurt, a.k.a. “the Mad Monk,” couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a personal shakedown cruise. Ten yachts and 20 crew will spend most of the next month sailing in an anti-clockwise direction through some of the most challenging waters on the planet with short stopovers in Mangonui, Stewart Island and Napier before returning to Auckland.

Matt Burkhardt and Kurt Boyle before leaving the marina (Charles Scoones)

Pelagian sails by while friends and family on the spectator launch sing “Happy Birthday” to Kurt

With 2,000 miles to go, the fleet were playing nice on the start line

Pelagian powered up and charging down the Harbour with a bone in her teeth (Charles Scoones)

A “firehose reach” down the Harbour courtesy of a fresh sou’wester (Charles Scoones)

Powered up, Pelagian begins to roll some of the other boats (Charles Scoones)

By the time she’s reached Prince’s Wharf, Pelagian has left two larger yachts in her wake

Truxton is first to hoist a kite in the blustery conditions, but once it was set she was smokin’ away from the rest of the fleet

The Farr 11.6 Expedition Coppelia goose winged near North Head

Pelagian puts a show on for the spectators up on North Head

And then a close pass to wave goodbye to us on the spectator boat

Tom and Vicky Jackson’s classic S & S Sunstone charges up the Ragitoto Channel

And off goes Pelagian towards Mangonui