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SkipperGraeme Francis
Home PortNew Plymouth
Length Overall10.97m
Boat DetailsRichard Wilson
Race Number12


Graeme Francis


After watching several Solo Trans-Tasman yacht races depart from New Plymouth I decided that I also would like to be a part of this great adventure of sailing over the horizon solo to Australia so I decided to build my own yacht and work towards competing in a race.


So I embarked on a project to build a Chico 30 foot yacht “Red Shift “out of Kauri timber.

Five years of hard work later and after gaining experience in her off the New Plymouth coast and sailing down to the Marlborough Sounds I was ready to enter in the next race.


The race that I competed in was the 1986 Solo Trans-Tasman race which was a great experience in ocean sailing and to help in sharpening my navigation skills. My first test of my new found knowledge.  After the race my partner and I then cruised northwards for 6 months up the East Australian coast nearly as far north as Cairns before heading back southwards to Sydney and then with a couple of friends made the voyage back to New Plymouth.

We had many great adventures along the way one included being marooned overnight on a coral atoll “Lady Musgrave Island” after our dinghy was washed away by the rising tide. A lesson was learnt here about tying the dinghy paynter onto a solid object before settling in for a quiet sundowner! A very anxious night was spent ashore watching “Red Shifts” anchor light a mile out in the lagoon before we could get back on board the next morning.


My sailing since the 1986 race has been predominantly coastal in a sloop which I co-own called “Robbery” a Richard Wilson 36 which sails and handles very much the same as the Chico 30 although at a faster speed.


Added to this I have managed to fit in a few crewed delivery voyages to and from Tonga and Fiji, with the added bonus on one of the voyages of a three day stop over at Raul Island and  also two diving and swimming detours at South Minerva Reef. The painted crays there are tasty although the black tip reef sharks take a bit of getting used to seeing them in the water with you.


Looking forward to the 2018 race, one of the greatest changes to the equipment on board since the last race I competed in will be the use of a chart plotter for navigation compared to a sextant and paper charts which I used in the 1986 race.

The use of a chart plotter provides certainty of one’s position which removes a lot of doubt and saves time working out morning and afternoon fixes.


Safety wise the mandatory attachment of Yellow Brick trackers to each vessel allows family friends and the race organisers to be able to follow each vessels progress and lets everyone feel part of the event.



After the 2018 race my family and I plan to once again sail Northwards up the East coast for a few weeks before heading southwards perhaps to Bundaberg to get Robbery ready for the sail back to her home berth in Gulf Harbour New Zealand.