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“We’ve got as many boats as them,” says the irrepressible Chris Bouzaid nodding down the dock at the six one-design Volvo Ocean 65s like colourful peas in a pod sitting on the hard nearby. “What’s more, we’re prettier and we’re having more fun.”


Bouzaid, who was 26 when he won the One Ton Cup in Germany 46 years ago and put New Zealand ocean racing on the world map, has forsaken his snow-bound home in coastal Maine, USA, to return to his country of birth and his first love.


Sailing with a crew of Kiwi old hands including some of his original crew, he’s campaigning the immaculately restored and refurbished kauri-hulled Rainbow II, the boat they sailed to glory so long ago.


They’re racing in the One Ton Cup Revisited, hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in a salute to the modern era of the level rating competition that was initiated in 1899 by the Cercle de la Voile yacht club in Paris.


After two days of competition in the five-race offshore series sailed in the Hauraki Gulf, Bouzaid’s 36-foot Rainbow is the points leader on corrected time, taking into account the handicap ratings for the different sized boats. Bernard Hyde’s Farr 40 has been first boat to finish all races.


Bouzaid won the Cup twice, the second time in Sydney, Australia in 1971, with his Wai Anawa. She’s also competing this week with current owner Roger Foley at the helm. The other entries are Hyde’s Pacific Sundance, Bevan Hill’s Result, Craig Hopkins Young Nick, Kevin Kelly’s Impact, John Burns’ Panther and Revolution, co-owned by Tony Wallis and Max Cossey.


The Squadron’s worldwide invitation to One Ton owners to come and race in Auckland went out last year and attracted 28 expressions of interest from nine countries that ultimately winnowed down to six entries from New Zealand yachts.


“We’d like to do this again, next year or the year after, and include other Ton Cup classes as well,” said Bouzaid. T


hey may be old but the six Kiwi boats that made it to the start line are beautifully maintained examples of an earlier era when ocean racers were good-looking and comfortable to live and sleep in offshore. In Rainbow’s case, she’s been fully restored to newer than-new-condition after Bouzaid bought her back from her Bermuda owners.


To recoup his campaign costs after the One Ton victory in Germany the young sailmaker had regretfully sold the sloop he named after his father’s veteran keeler Rainbow. Following her full restoration here and this week’s event, Rainbow II will go to a New Zealand yachting trust for the future enjoyment of sailing fans.


Public who’d like to see Rainbow II and her One Ton sisters can get up close to the boats in the Race Village.


The final race of the One Ton Revisited series on will be on Saturday 7 March on a short course in the Gulf. It will be followed by a public prize giving in the Volvo Ocean Race Village.


Bruce Marler, who was commodore of the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and one of the key supporters of Bouzaid’s campaigns to Germany, will be on hand to award the prizes.