Race 2 to Administration Bay
Saturday 27 October 2012
The day was forecast to be sunny with very light breeze in the morning. So it was. At the start, there were 10 boats milling about in the 6 knots or so of NE breeze before the start. We had a starter on the Orakei pier, and he did a great job and was exactly on time according to my GPS. Thanks to that man, it IS good to have somebody there for the start.
It seemed you needed flag-officer or ex-commodore privileges to start well, as Communique, Incentive, Absolute Leisure and Mr Roosevelt, were the yachts in the front rank away at the gun, along with the big cat P’Zazz. Credit to Fendall and Lyn on Communique, I think they nailed it being to windward and right on time.
The rest of the yachts made up the second rank, but everyone was soon away, except for the late-starting 11th boat, Quicksilver, who were out for their first race with us. They had been delayed by friends at the marina, so were about 10 minutes behind the start gun – but at least they had clear air!
Away from the start, Mr Roosevelt and Absolute Leisure quickly moved ahead, with Communique and Incentive hanging on very well. Wind was quite light and getting lighter, so the heavier yachts were slower here. P’Zazz showed good speed out of the start line, but tacking in very light air is VERY difficult for a big cat with only 2 crew, so they were slowed by the manoeuvring required to clear North Head.
As the yachts made their way up the Rangitoto channel, the fleet had basically split into 2 sets of yachts. The leaders were happier in the very light conditions, and were moving steadily away from most of the heavier boats, but some of the other yachts were going quite well. Tomodachi weighs about 29 tonnes, but was sailing nicely for the big and luxurious cruiser that she is. Aeolian was also picking up the pace a bit. P’Zazz was doing the very best they could expect with the conditions – cruising catamarans are SPECTACULARLY slow to windward in light air, but P’Zazz is no ordinary cruising cat and was slipping along OK. Result and Ocean Rhythm were sailing well enough, but handicapped by relatively small sail area for the light breeze. Funnily enough, we on Romany found ourselves in the middle of these 2 fleets, and we were starting to get along better after a very ordinary start.
The wind became lighter as we approached the lighthouse, and in the end became very patchy. The leading yachts were caught in the light stuff, and this allowed the followers to narrow the gap a little, but soon everyone found that they were going REALLY slowly.
It reminded me of the good old days when I used to sail on an inland lake in the middle of Africa, drifting from cats-paw to cats-paw, as the wind touched down on the lake surface apparently at random. Maybe all those drifters in Zimbabwe stood me in good stead for this race, because we were able to overtake ALL of the leaders during this light stuff, and ended up leading the race for a while when we found a better bit of breeze than Mr Roosevelt.
Congratulations to everybody out there – nobody stopped racing, even though boat-speed was down to almost zero at times. Unfortunately during this time, Aeolian ran into an uncharted rock (I think I have heard it referred to as “Rangitoto Island” by locals of the area) and though he was only going very slowly, it meant that he got stuck and had to use his motor to get off the rock. Phil being an honourable man decided to retire, just when the wind was about to get going again. We do not think that there is any serious damage, and we all hope that Aeolian has merely scraped a bit of anti-foul off the keel.
Eventually the wind filtered back onto the course from the North, and the lead boats immediately prospered. Mr Roosevelt looked purposeful and efficient to windward as they sailed easily past Romany to regain the lead, and over time, the wind reached back down the course to everyone in the fleet. It was really quite pleasant then, I think the breeze got up to almost 10 knots or so for a time.
The way the breeze filled in helped the leaders to extend even further, and it really was a case of the rich getting richer, but soon everyone was sailing on what was a nice smooth-water beat to the finish in Administration Bay. Mr Roosevelt took the gun, a long way ahead of Romany, then Absolut Leisure, hotly pursued by Communique, then Incentive, Tomodachi, P’Zazz, Result, Quicksilver and Ocean Rhythm. The wind and tide made things worse for the later yachts, so that extended the time differences between first and last.
It took a long time to sail that race, we only covered about 10.6 miles, yet the very quick Mr Roosevelt took more than 3 hours to cover this distance, AND we had the tide helping for most of the way till the wind came in. Well done to everyone for finishing. It was a nice day to be out even without much wind.
We did the BBQ on the beach as soon as we could get organised so at 4:00pm most crews headed to the beach for the wonderful sausages (thanks Fendall and Lyn) and whatever liquids were on hand. Rosa (from Quicksilver) has initiated a new practice of pre-saucing the bread while assisting with the sausage hand-out!!! This I had never seen before, so there you have it. Yet another fantastic innovation at the RAYC cruising series.
It was also a chance to catch up with the RAYC folks who had recently done the coastal classic race. The guys from P’Zazz were there, they had won their division by MILES and MILES, so they are very happy with their new boat. Congrats to John Webster and Paul Gillard – that was an amazing result and I think that their PHRF will be hammered after that performance.
Also backing up from the Coastal Classic were Matt and Cath from Mr Roosevelt, and John Muir and crew on Absolut Leisure, so well done to all of you for turning up to our cruising race – it was great to have you make such an effort after the big race weekend and long sail back.
Special award for commitment to turning up MUST go to John and Paul from P’zazz. They had their boat out of the water at Whangarei the day before, and they had sailed from Whangarei to Waikalabubu during the afternoon and late into the early hours of the morning, just so they could make it to the cruising race the next day. Fantastic effort guys.
It was good to meet John Muir’s new crew member, Sarah Morgan, who will be coming to do some of the races with us. Welcome, and if I have your name wrong, then please forgive me and let me know. Do you call yourself “Saz”?
We also got to meet up again with Karen, wife of Greg Russell from Tomodachi. It appears that Greg may not be such a hard task-master as we feared, because his friends John and Annette had turned out again to help get the big boat around the course. Greg wanted to suggest a new prize section for the racing. He was thinking of something along the lines of “First English Yacht”, or “First Moody 52” yacht, or something like that. I promised him that we would think about it – and opened myself another “Tui’s” beer.
Prize-giving was done by race convenor Jonathan Ash, and as can be seen from the results, the winners on corrected time were all near the front of the fleet. Romany was 1st, Communique 2nd beating Mr Roosevelt into 3rd by only 3 seconds. Mr Roosevelt ended up with an extra bottle of rum for being the gun boat, and taking all the finish times as they waited patiently for the rest of us to finish. Thanks to our generous sponsors at Orakei Yacht Sales for the prezzies.
Aeolian was awarded the wooden spoon by commodore Matt Woodley. Phil and Sally from Aeolian were also unlikely starters. A month ago, Phil was doing some walking up on a hill or mountain or whatever, and took a tumble. He broke ribs, punctured a lung, and was confined to Wellington for a month before they would let him fly back to Auckland. Despite all this, he turned up to do the race having only got back to Auckland on Tuesday. It seemed a pity to give him the wooden spoon after all that effort, just for bumping gently into one insignificant little island.
Quicksilver was out for the first time with us for this race, but we really have NO idea how she will sail as she was 10 minutes late for the start, so we could not evaluate her performance. For now, we have started them on a handicap of 0.75, but that handicap goes down to 0.742 after their result for this race. We look forward to seeing Paul and Rosa (and Molly and Alex) out again soon, maybe with a more sensible breeze.
We on Romany had to get away early as I had work (I hate that), but we are really looking forward to the next race and a chance to catch up in a more leisurely fashion next BBQ time. We truly love our cruising series. We just have the best people in our fleet, and it is why we always come when we can – it is just so good to catch up with everyone. The racing really is the secondary attraction for us, though of course we always sail to win if we can.
See you all next time.