As winter sets in, the warm tropical breezes of the Pacific Islands draw many of us to them for a mid-winter holiday. But for one Coca-Cola New Zealand team member the mode of transport was not a jet plane but a yacht race taking her 1200 nautical miles (2,200kms) offshore from Auckland to Fiji as part of the recent Royal Akarana Yacht Club’s ‘ANZ Sail Fiji’ yacht race.



Catherine Woodley helming Steinlager 2

Catherine Woodley helming Steinlager 2



Catherine Woodley, is no stranger to yacht racing; however this was her first major offshore race. Catherine has spent the past 15 years sailing the coast of the North Island of New Zealand but thought it was about time to venture further afield for the deep blue waters of the Pacific. As part of 24 crew on board legendary kiwi boat ‘Steinlager 2’, Catherine was part of a broad range of crew members ranging from 16 – 75 years of age and with different levels of sailing experience from novices to experienced round the world sailors.
 
“The opportunity to be a crew member on Steinlager 2 was something that I couldn’t turn down.  Sailing on Sir Peter Blake’s “Big Red” in my first major offshore race seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” says Catherine.


Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 is no stranger to ocean racing after winning each and every leg of the 1989/1990 Whitbread Race.  “Big Red” has had an action packed life after spending years abroad before finally coming home to Auckland in 2012.  Now safely secured within the NZ Sailing Trust it has been a regular on the Waitemata Harbour and now gives opportunities for those willing to get on board to stand where the legend Sir Peter Blake once stood.

“As one of just a handful of women doing the race, I was excited to be able experience the thrill of ocean racing. It was tough, wet and rough at times but I enjoyed every minute of it and the crew I shared the experience with are an amazing bunch of people who will remain firm friends.”