Race 1 to Waikalabubu (Shortened to finish at Haystack)
There was a nice forecast for this race, SE breeze of 10-15 knots, going south later, and sunshine. 7 boats were at the start. John Muir was out for the first time in a cruising race with his new boat, the well-performed Farr 43 Georgia One. Also out were Sudoeste, Quicksilver, Incentive, Ocean Rhythm, Moon Mist and Romany.
Everyone was there in good time for the start, and sailing around nicely in the as yet light SE breeze, and most of the boats were lining up about 100m from the start at 90 seconds before the start, but then the wind stopped. Georgia One was the only boat really close to the line as the gun went, some way ahead of the other yachts, but the wind had literally stopped. Then it changed through about 90 degrees and came from the NE. Everyone got going eventually as the wind filled in from the new direction, but what looked like being a reach up the channel BEFORE the start, had turned into a beat to clear North Head.
Georgia One was well ahead, with Sudoeste going well not too far behind, then came Incentive, Moon Mist, Ocean Rhythm, Romany and Quicksilver. The breeze was still patchy and unsettled, so there was room for changes to take place. Romany tacked away to the East and leapfrogged all the other yachts except the 2 leaders.
The wind did seem to settle now into an ENE to NE type breeze at around 8-10 knots, it was glorious sunshine, and the boats had settled into a nice reach up the channel towards the lighthouse. The pace of the 2 bigger boats was obvious here, with Georgia One and Sudoeste clearing out very quickly to the point where it was difficult for us to tell what the relative distances was between the 2 leaders. It seemed to us that Georgia One was significantly quicker than Sudoeste, though Jonathan and Kerry were sailing very well and miles faster than the rest of the boats in the fleet.
As we reached up the channel, all of the boats were enjoying the conditions. Quicksilver seemed to have a very shiny and new-looking headsail, and were going along well – those dark blue hulls always look lovely with snowy white sails gleaming in the sun.
So all was happiness and sunshine and good boat speed. Incentive was gaining slowly but steadily on Romany along this part of the course, Quicksilver travelling well slightly further out in the channel, with Moon Mist and Ocean Rhythm as usual not too far apart and close with the other yachts. Then the wind flaked out. We saw the lead boats manoeuvring and tacking up ahead, and did not know why. When we reached the place where they started to mess around, we found the big wind hole, which basically started near A buoy and stretched out all the way to Tiri.
To cut a long story short, that almost windless void lasted a VERY long time, more than 2 hours, and what little breeze there was came from the North (so much for the forecast SE going South). As the tide was now coming in, most of the yachts were almost stationary, making maybe 0.3 to 0.5 knot across the ground in the good times, going backwards in the bad times. We had been sailing the right side of the course, and when the wind dropped right away (a couple of hours later) we were starting to go backwards out through the channel between Motutapu and Rakino.
The 2 lead yachts had been doing slightly better than the slower boats through this, and Georgia One actually finished the shortened race at the Haystack at around 2:18pm. Sudoeste was next at around 2:57.
The slower yachts were still in very little or no breeze at this time, and Quicksilver had to down sails and head for home as they had other people aboard and needed to get back. Incentive and Romany were some way ahead of Moon Mist and Ocean Rhythm, but these 2 slowly sailed up towards Incentive. Mac Nell was apparently reading the paper and pretending not to notice that he was catching up on the other boats, as he did not want anything to change.
The wind did eventually pick up all four yachts at almost the same time. Breeze was still from the North, but now at around 5-8 knots, so it was almost a beat to the finish at Haystack where John Muir was kindly waiting to take the finish times. On this leg, Incentive did best, and Romany struggled to make it past Moon Mist and Ocean Rhythm, so the last 4 boats finished really close together. In the results, Georgia One had a well-deserved win, and the almost inevitable Ocean Rhythm was second, with Sudoeste third.
Because the race was so long we were only on the beach for the BBQ at around 5:30. Sudoeste and Georgia One both had to head back to Auckland, so it was Gold Card members only on the beach, with the exception of the single contributing tax-payer in the form of my good self! Fred and Wendy had brought some excellent sausages, they really were very good and cooked to perfection. It was a lovely day out there, so despite the lack of wind for more than 2 hours, it was a pleasant day out on the water and on the beach.