Saturday was supposed to have 15-20 knots from the SW, and that is what we had. During the day the wind did gust at times to possibly more than 25 knots, but not as much as 30 knots I think.
5 boats were there for the start. The breeze was already well up, so Romany and Incentive were running small #3 headsails, but everyone else seemed comfortable with full sail. We thought there would be no starter, and arranged to start on GPS time at 10:30, but then Fred from Incentive advised that we would probably have a start crew, and there they were. Did a very good job too thanks.
At the Start, Absolut Leisure and Romany were almost side by side, but Absolut Leisure was to windward and her wind shadow meant they shot away quite quickly. John Muir was sailing today with Sergey and Tania Vetrov (owners of the Farr 9.2 Short Circuit). After these came Mac Nell solo on Ocean Rhythm, and Graham Collie with his nephew Nick on Moon Mist. Incentive was about 2 minutes late for the start because the headsail change had delayed their departure from the Marina.
The wind was from SW, so it was a run as far as Bean Rock, and we on Romany remained poled out for the whole way from there to almost Rakino, as the wind direction really was from behind almost all the way. Absolut Leisure slowly stretched away from the other yachts. Romany was hanging on to second, and Moon Mist and Ocean Rhythm were both going very well, with Incentive gaining from astern. Moon Mist and Ocean Rhythm are fairly even in this sort of condition, so they were never far from each other. Incentive was quicker, and had passed the other two Townson yachts by the time we were alongside Motutapu’s Eastern shore.
Up till now, the sailing was fairly straightforward and quite pleasant, as we were going away from the brisk breeze. When we rounded the Haystack, we felt the full force of the wind, and also found choppy water there. It was a beat to the finish, and quite windy, probably as high as 25 knots at time. Incentive had wisely reefed the mainsail before starting the beat, and was probably quite comfortable like this. We were well over-powered with our full mainsail, but the boat was sailing nice and easy with traveller well down.
Despite the boisterous conditions, everyone seemed to do a really good job of this beat. I saw no bad tacks or any particular problems on any of the yachts, so we must be good at managing this stuff. Hats off to Mac Nell who was single-handed, but you would never know it from the way he managed the race.
Absolut Leisure finished well ahead, with Romany hanging on to beat Incentive over the line, but Incentive had sailed the quicker race and if they had started on time, would have been ahead. Nice job by Wendy and Fred. Moon Mist DID beat Ocean Rhythm over the line, but it was very close. Thanks to John Muir and crew who did an excellent job to get their sails down and hold station to take all the times. It was a good effort in the windy conditions, especially as they had some difficulty because the main halyard sheave had apparently broken, so they struggled to get the mainsail down.
We went to Mullet Bay for the night, and Justin made the mistake of visiting Absolut Leisure to collect the results. There were rums poured by Sergey that were no gentler than the previous occasion’s efforts by Yuri. Once again, Justin was in very cheerful spirits by the time the BBQ was held.
Absolut Leisure had to get back to Auckland, so the crews from the other 4 yachts had a very fine BBQ on the beach with excellent sausages kindly organised by Boyd, and thanks to Boyd and our sponsors Columbus Coffee for the prizes. As can be seen from the attached handicap results, Ocean Rhythm was first, Moon Mist second, Absolut Leisure third, Incentive fourth, Romany fifth. It was a very pleasant night, and concluded with everyone enjoying the hospitality of Mac Nell as he invited us all for coffee and biscuits aboard Ocean Rhythm.
It was a windy day, and it was pleasing to see that nobody had any real difficulties with managing their boats. This cruising racing is very good
because it makes you go out and sail your boat in winds and directions that you might choose to avoid if you were only cruising, and I think it gives everyone a chance to improve their confidence and boat handling.
I will be away for the next 3 races, as I am going to join Jonathan, Kerry and Emily Ash as they sail across the Atlantic in their yacht. I will be away from 13th November till 14th December, and not easily contactable while actually mid-Atlantic. I hope everyone enjoys the next 3 races – we have certainly had a really good time in the first two weekends of the season.