The 36th annual Fiji Regatta Week — Fiji’s largest annual regatta — has drawn to a close after six days of yacht racing, parties, seminars and more. One of the largest racing and cruising regattas in the South Pacific, 2019’s edition attracted just over 100 yachts and 380 sailors. Representing more than 20 countries on six continents, the regatta had an incredibly diverse fleet ranging in size from a little 26-ft sloop from California all the way up to a handful of catamarans and monohulls in the 60- to 75-ft range.
Both geographically and calendar-wise, the regatta is quite ideally located for many West Coast sailors who are cruising the South Pacific after the Baja Ha-Ha and the Pacific Puddle Jump. It’s a mainstay on the cruising calendar for many American, Australian and New Zealand-based yachts. The majority of the sponsors come from the New Zealand marine industry. Musket Cove Resort and Marina founder Dick Smith of New Zealand created the regatta to encourage more foreign yachts to cruise through the region.
“After doing the Ha-Ha and the Puddle Jump, I made it to Fiji and just fell in love with the place. I’ve gone back and forth to New Zealand a few times, but this is my fourth season in Fiji,” explains 2015 Baja Ha-Ha veteran Jose Miguel Castello of the San Francisco-based Beneteau 423 Carthago. “The people, the incredible surfing, the crystal-clear water… Fiji is paradise,” Castello added.
“We just came through the Panama Canal about five months ago and crossed to French Polynesia in April,” said Jamie Leitner of the Cairns, Australia-based Leopard 62 More Amare. “Fiji has been a great spot to meet other cruising yachties and to enjoy some fun in the sun before ending this dream run and heading home for cyclone season.”
Mick and Liss Hoult’s Craig Schionning-designed Spirited 480 catamaran Roam, took out both of the big-boat races of the week — the Bay of Islands Boatyard Sandbank Race and the Marsden Cove Marina Around Malolo Classic — but not without some serious competition. In the first race, Roam had a close battle from start to finish with Gorm and Maren Gondesen’s German-flagged Finot-Conq-designed FC53 racer/cruiser monohull Nica. Third over the line was the Millett family’s New Zealand-based Open 66 NV, an ex-Vendée Globe racing yacht that has been lengthened from 60 to 66 feet and converted to a cruising boat. In the Around Malolo Race on Wednesday, Roam again claimed line honors, this time over the locally owned Tim Clissold-designed 8.5-meter box rule racing catamaran Miss Minnie, with NV again third, but top monohull.
Rod and Kerry Waterhouse of Sydney, Australia, won the week’s Hobie Cat match-racing event. Their son Jason is an Olympic silver medalist and races in the America’s Cup and SailGP circuits.