Zenith, skippered by Rob Greenwood won the Tonga Island Yacht race in tricky conditions on Sunday. Photo Supplied.

Zenith defies conditions to claim Tonga Island race

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The Rob Greenwood-skippered Zenith took line honours in the Tonga Island Yacht Race on Sunday in conditions he described as “very challenging”.

Zenith finished the 50 nautical mile race in seven hours and 40 minutes, having battled 40 knot winds which pushed the boat sideways at times and meant crews were working throughout the race.

“It was one out of the box,” Rob says. “You expect a breeze this time of year, but it was very stiff.

“I’m shattered today and can barely walk.

“The race began off Nelson with little to no wind, but the strong westerly which was over much of the country soon took charge.”

Zenith was second when the boats reached Tonga Island but re-took the lead early on the way back to Nelson and extended it as they crossed the line.

“It was a good field of boats and we were very pleased to cross the line first.

“The conditions made things quite exciting.”

Next on the list for Rob and Zenith will be a race around the North Island in February. which is likely to have a big fleet of strong sailors taking on what can be challenging  and unpredictable race conditions.

Full category results will be known by Wednesday.