The race was a Le Mans start from Islington Bay. Everyone had to be on the boat ramp at 10:45 ready to drink a shot of rum, before rowing to their anchored yacht to start the race.
8 boats had arrived for the start, and were anchored at varying distances from the boat ramp.
When Romany arrived in the bay, Mike Wilson from Starlight Express had kindly reserved a spot for us to anchor in – he pointed it out to us – somewhere over the Eastern side of the bay about 500m from the boat ramp. We thanked him for that kind thought, but anchored about 50m from the boat ramp instead. This was also our first chance to see the Green Trimaran “Tide Reach” out for one of our races. They had evidently not done this Le Mans type start before, because they were anchored furthest from the boat ramp, and young Fred who was doing the rowing had an Outboard mounted on the dinghy to slow up his rowing.
There was some minor jostling for pole position at the boat ramp, but no actual blood was spilt, probably due to the presence of a couple of ladies sent by their husbands to do the oar-work. I was surprised to see that Rosa from Quicksilver had been sent with both children to act as a weight handicap – “she has no idea what this is like” I thought.
When the gun went, everyone downed their drinks and leapt into their dinghies. There were some minor collisions and crossed oars, but nothing serious. Cassie from Starlight overtook me in her hard-bottomed dinghy rowing cleanly and with some elegance.
It was during this rowing phase that I discovered that Paul O’Connor from Quicksilver is in fact a straight-up and fair-minded person. I was rowing my lightweight aluminium-hulled RIB, and I had no extra weight, a quick take-off, and only about 50m to row. Paul’s wife Rosa (with the 2 kids aboard) was rowing a very big and heavy-looking rib. She overtook me easily, having given me a considerable head start while getting her 2 littlies into the dinghy. Paul had rightly decided that she needed the extra weight of those kids in the boat to make it fair for the rest of us. This country has a great future in women’s rowing if Rosa is typical of their abilities.
Once on the yachts, the race was properly on. Communique got away best at first, but Tomodachi was powered up and chasing them quite quickly. Romany was next, then came Outlaw, Ocean Rhythm, and the rest. Romany was able to power past Outlaw and just managed to get ahead of Communique at the red buoy, but Tomodachi was already gone. So the Le Mans stage ended with Tomodachi, Romany, Communique, Ocean Rhythm motoring fast had passed Outlaw, then Starlight Express and Tide Reach in that order. Quicksilver may have had some problem at that time, as they texted later to say that they had a “slightly sick” crew member and had withdrawn from the race. We hope everyone is well.
The wind was SW at around 16-20 knots, so it was a beat from Issy Bay Red to the South-West corner of Rangitoto. Tomodachi was leading, and powering along very well in the brisk breeze. We had an opportunity to watch the big yacht sailing fast, travelling at a good even angle of heel, with the mainsail trimming out and in for the puffs – John on traveller was obviously earning his keep. We were doing well on Romany, and Communique was snapping at our heels. Outlaw and Starlight Express were winding up to full potential now, and these 2 were able to overtake Romany and Communique shortly after we passed the ferry wharf. Ocean Rhythm was going very well too, and though we did not see Tide Reach ourselves, Mac tells me that Tide Reach passed him on this leg.
Once clear of the corner of Rangitoto, it was a fast reach up the channel to the lighthouse. Tomodachi was going really well in these conditions, as was everyone really. It was a lovely reach up here – we were doing 7.2 to 8.2 knots so goodness knows how fast Starlight Express was going.
At the lighthouse, the field had settled a little. Starlight was leading by now, and Outlaw was slowly closing the gap on Tomodachi. All these 3 yachts were well to the West of the lighthouse. Romany, Communique and Ocean Rhythm sailed the shortest distance, taking a line that went straight to the lighthouse from the SW corner of Rangi. Tide Reach was not in our view at this stage, but was sailing wide we think.
Once past the lighthouse, the course to Haystack was a very broad reach, and almost a run. Romany and Communique poled out quickly, while the rest of the yachts held onto 2-sail reaching lines travelling much longer distances as they sailed wide angles. Ocean Rhythm did not pole out, but Mac was able to sail the boat goose-winged without the pole, and also followed a straight line to the Haystack.
Romany and Communique kept pace with Outlaw as they gybed back and forth up the run, and normally Outlaw is miles faster than us. Outlaw and Tomodachi did eventually pole out their headsails, upon which Outlaw quickly moved away from us. Starlight Express does not carry their spinnaker pole when cruising, and not having this meant that they had to sail the reaching angles on this leg.
At the Haystack, Starlight Express was some way ahead of Outlaw, then came Tomodachi just 3 boat-lengths ahead of Romany, with Communique staying well in touch only a few minutes back. Ocean Rhythm was next, having passed Tide Reach on the run.
It was a beat down the Eastern side of Rakino to the finish at Waikalabubu, and the wind was still quite brisk, maybe 15-20 knots, so the boats were fully powered to the finish. Communique did a really good job of this beat, able to sail higher than the yachts that had gone round Haystack ahead. Because of the hills and valleys on the Southern side of Waikalabubu, the approach was a bit gusty, and yachts needed to avoid the awash rock in the channel near Rakino. Most boats passed to the South of the awash rock, but Fendall and Lynne sailed through the gap to the North, close to Rakino, and this was a worthwhile tactical gain, as the wind was fairer and less disturbed here than it was closer to the hills of Motutapu.
Starlight finished first, and did a good job to turn around and anchor in time to take the finish times of most of the other yachts (thanks Mike and Cassie). Outlaw finished second, then a little distance back were Tomodachi, Romany, and Communique.
Communique was on a good approach line to the finish when she got flattened by a sudden heavy gust, and Lynne was thrown across the cockpit, slightly injuring herself as a rope burned its way across her chest. Communique did an involuntary tack as she came back up, but Lynne was quick to pick herself up and help get the boat back on its feet, so they made a fast recovery to cross the finish line without too much time wasted – well done Lynne, that was a gutsy performance.
After Communique came Ocean Rhythm, not far behind the faster yachts, so Mac had made a good job of that busy race single-handed and managed the beats well. Tide Reach finished soon after Ocean Rhythm, but they could not get their engine started, so decided not to stay at Waikalabubu and headed off to Motuihe.
As can be seen in the results, Tomodachi finished first by a long way on corrected time, with Ocean Rhythm clearly second. Both of these yachts perform well in stronger wind conditions, and they both sailed well on the day. The other 5 yachts finished within 4 minutes on corrected times, and there are plenty of “what if” scenarios that would have changed the ownership of the 3rd bottle of rum awarded for handicap placings. It was Romany who ended up 3rd on this day, just 1 minute ahead of the very well-sailed Communique.
The beach BBQ was very good – we had a lovely sandy beach, great sausages as usual, and plenty of chat. The weather for the weekend was just wonderful, sunny and warm enough for the most part, though fairly overcast during the race itself. Altogether a very good day for sailing and beach BBQs. At the prize-giving there was sufficient rum and coffee to hand out rum to 3 H/cap places, and for the gun boat Starlight Express. Other racers received coffee prizes, and our sincere thanks go out to Orakei Yacht Sales and Columbus coffee for their generous sponsorship.
I heard some interesting theories about handicaps on the beach, one being that the handicaps are unkind to the faster yachts. The handicapping system is designed to share out the prizes to everyone, so it rewards failure, and punishes success. If you win this week, then you are less likely to do so in the next race.
This seems to work just as well for the fast boats as it does for the slow – see the summary table of prize ratios attached. This covers racing from 2006-7 season up until now, and shows the number of HANDICAP top 3 placings in the number of races FINISHED.
As can be seen, the fast yachts are just as well represented in the prizes as the slower yachts, as the average seems to be about 46% finishes in the top 3 for most yachts on handicap.
Please check your handicaps and results, also the series results so far.
If you are unhappy about your handicap, then please let me know and we can adjust it.
If you think that you have entered the post-Christmas series, and are not shown there, please let me know and I can adjust the series entry results.