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2013/2014 Cruising Series – Race 1
Saturday 19 October 2013

The weekend forecast was for 10-15 knot SW winds, with a possibility of early drizzle on Saturday, then a nice sunny weekend.

That is how it played out. It was drizzling hard for a while before the start, but when the start got away at 10:30 it was fine. Thanks to the starter – I think it was Boyd from Outlaw who managed all the flag-waving.

None of the yachts made a perfect start. Absolut Leisure was away the best, with Romany arriving at the pin a little late on starboard just inside of Incentive, with Ocean Rhythm making a good run at the line on Port. Tomodachi, Kittyhawk, Quicksilver and Aeolian were a bit behind these boats, but everyone was away safely for the first leg of the race.

The first part of the race was a VERY broad reach, almost a run, towards Rough Rock, and it was really best as a goose-wing sail. Some boats did not have poles out for this leg, but we all set off after Absolut Leisure who was leading the way towards the Rough Rock beacon.

The course instructions stated that we were to round the Rough Rock racing mark, and we in Romany had never sailed around this mark, so we did not know for sure where it was or if it even existed. Looking at the little map of the racing marks, it seemed that it must be some way East of Rough Rock beacon. We did eventually see it – a long way right of the beacon itself. John Muir on Absolut Leisure also did not know where the mark was, and he sailed around the beacon itself as well as sailing round the racing mark, while we cut the corner and rounded the racing mark only. Most of the other yachts turned to cut the corner when they saw the knowledgeable Fred Price heading in that direction on Incentive.

By now the wind was quite good, getting up to about 12-15 knots SW at my guess, and we were all sailing towards Islington Bay via Iliomama Beacon. Absolut Leisure was now stretching away from the others, Romany was next, with Incentive – new paintwork gleaming in the sunshine – making gains on Romany along this broad reach. Tomodachi was also sailing faster now, starting to get some performance from the long boat in that building breeze. Ocean Rhythm had made a solid start to the race, and Mac Nell was holding on quite well, still sailing close to Aeolian from the beginning of this leg. Quicksilver was going along very politely, Paul was sailing conservatively and safely with 1 reef in the main which later would prove advantageous as the wind continued to build. Kittyhawk was a wee bit slower than we would expect along this leg – Conway thinks the barnacles on the boat may have been a factor.

Once around Issy Bay red, it was a beat to Browns Island Navy Buoy, none of the yachts could quite lay through, so we all had to make 2 tacks to get around the mark. Absolute Leisure had stretched out a bit here, Romany was just a little ahead and to windward of Incentive, and Tomodachi was powering along, as the breeze was now quite strong – more than 15 knots true. Tomodachi was level and to windward of Romany when we noticed a couple of Orca on the surface – we were sailing straight at them. Obviously the Orca did not like the look of us, because they moved away and we were able to sail our line without worrying about them. By now Aeolian had moved up and was travelling well on this upwind leg – maybe Phil and Sally were getting some advantage from their new keel design. Ocean Rhythm, Quicksilver and Kittyhawk also seemed to be moving along very nicely.

We on Romany were fairly over-powered on this leg. The Tomodachi folk later told us that they also felt they had too much sail up for the conditions, so in this part of the course, Quicksilver was probably very pleased with their reefed mainsail. Due to the busy aspect of this leg, a few mistakes were made. Incentive tacked involuntarily, and lost a LOT of ground. We on Romany tacked with sheets clipped between the spinnaker pole and stanchions, and ended up in irons and going backwards, we also lost a lot of ground. Apparently Tomodachi had a few problems with their tacking also, so it seems we are all a bit rusty, except for Mac Nell who had a faultless sail and made no errors. We do not know how Quicksilver got on, but they looked OK, while Kittyhawk admitted to some bother here and there.

Once around Browns Island buoy, it was a fast broad reach to the finish at Issy Bay. Absolut Leisure was well ahead, and had time to stop, anchor, and take finish times – thanks to John Muir and crew for doing that job – it makes the results much easier to do. Tomodachi was second to cross, followed by Romany, Incentive, Aeolian, Ocean Rhythm, Quicksilver and Kittyhawk.

Most of the fleet followed Tomodachi (and the BBQ and sausages) to Station Bay on Motutapu. Quicksilver stayed in Issy Bay to take the kids for a walk up the hill. Absolut Leisure needed to go back to Auckland that night, but decided to come along and stop a while with us before heading home, as it was just a lovely day to be out on the water and still quite early.

BBQ on the beach was held around 4:30, after Greg and Justin had been called back from Absolut Leisure where they had shared a few heavy-handed rums with John Muir. His crew Yuri was handling the rum bottle for the most part, and he is obviously a very generous person by nature. Greg and Justin were fairly cheerful by the time they reached the beach.

Thanks to Greg and Karen from Tomodachi who had organised the sausages. Their crew for this trip were Alastair and Maureen, and we also had another stand-in crew on Kittyhawk, as Jude’s nephew Cameron had come along for this trip. We DID do prize-giving on the beach, as Boyd had dropped off some bottles of wine as prizes for the race. As can be seen from the handicap results, Mac Nell was first on Ocean Rhythm, with Tomodachi second, just ahead of Absolut Leisure third. The BBQ was a pleasant affair, but the wind got fairly cold quite quickly, so we all left and went back to our boats before it got dark.

Altogether a very nice day’s sailing, and the Sunday was also very nice, so we had a good sail home.

See you for the next race.

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