The idea of holding a yacht race across the Tasman sea to Mooloolaba originated in the late 1960s. New Plymouth Yacht Club members; Howard Vosper, Dennis Lobb and Phillip Goodsell proposed holding a singlehanded trans Tasman race at an AGM and a committee was formed in 1968. The only other singlehanded ocean race in the world, at the time, was the Observer Singlehanded Trans Atlantic Race (OSTAR) from Plymouth (UK) to Newport , Rhode Island, USA, and it was attracting large numbers of people.
Mooloolaba in Queensland was chosen as the finishing point, on the advice of the Royal Queensland Cruising Club, because it has easy access with sheltering breakwaters and is well clear of shoals and strong tides in Moreton Bay and Brisbane.
The first race attracted five entries, three from NZ, one from Australia and one from USA. So began an event unique to New Plymouth and of endless interest to the yachting fraternity of Taranaki, New Zealand and the World. Eleven races have been run with the next one being held on the 20th April 2014.
The fastest time ever for the crossing is held by Ian Johnston, who in the 1986 race, sailed the trimaran Bullfrog Sunblock the 1280 nautical miles in 6 days, 8hrs 50mins, an average speed of just over 8 knots.
Sailing from New Plymouth, and once clear of the coastline, yachts have a clear passage to the Mooloolaba which is well marked by the big lighthouse on nearby Point Cartwright. Lord Howe Island and the Elizabeth and Middleton's Reefs area lie close to the track.
This is not just a monohull event as a whole range of sailing craft - monohulls, catamaran and trimarans have entered in previous years. Trimarans Rebel (in 1970) and Bullfrog Sunblock (in 1986) have won the race, along with catamaran Yentracam (in 1978).
Thirteen boats have will arrive at the start line on the 20th April. All of these will have a YB Tracker onboard which will transmit every hour. The data collected including speed, direction and GPS coordinates are transmitted through the Iridium satellite network to YB HQ servers. From there the information is converted into our racetracker, which is continuously updated. The race tracker is available at the Solo Tasman Yacht Challenge website.