First victor tries again 30 years on

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Veteran Arthurs Point sailor Clive Manners-Wood isn’t holding his breath for a repeat performance at this weekend’s Donald Hay Classic.

Manners-Wood skippered his yacht Slow Dancer home to win the inaugural race on Lake Wakatipu 30 years ago.

He’s back this year to compete in the regatta celebrating the epic voyage undertaken by explorer Donald Hay from Kingston to Queenstown – except this time, Manners-Wood has a new boat.

The Elliott 7 yacht, so far unnamed, could be a bit of a challenge to sail during Saturday’s race, he says: “It’s fast downwind but upwind it’s a real bloody handful – a racy, twitchy boat.”

The race celebrates the 150th anniversary of Hay’s original expedition on his rudimentary raft and to mark the occasion, Wakatipu Yacht Club has changed the recently-triangular course to retrace Hay’s voyage.

Manners-Wood, who crossed the finish line in the inaugural Queenstown to Kingston race one hour and 45 minutes ahead of the second place-getter, modestly says he’d just be glad to finish this time.

“[Winning’s] for the young ones.”

Race spokesman Andrew Husheer says he’s expecting up to 80 yachts to enter the regatta, which officially begins tomorrow.

It’s open to all trailer and keel yachts 5.2 metres and over – and requires a lot of skill, says Husheer.

“It’s not about who has the fastest boat. You have to decide which side of the lake to go up. It helps if you have a bit of local knowledge but the winds coming off the mountains can be fairly tricky for anyone.”