Head Coach Nathan Laurie recently purchased a Piedy so that he could get on the water and sail himself. Being a full time coach doesn’t allow a lot of time for personal sailing, but Nathan was determined to get a boat, and to complete in the 2018 SSANZ Safety at Sea Triple Series. Check out his blog from Race 1! He and his crew Lanny were also the feature for the official video – watch below.
For Party Piedy, Race 1 of the SSANZ started a long time before the starting gun. Having bought the boat 4 months ago with the hope of doing the SSANZ and other longer races, we had made the decision to hold off until next year as the preparation time and cost of the safety gear was going to be too much this year.
Enter Lanny, a SSANZ veteran without a boat, who was a one-man-band with getting all of the safety gear sorted for the race. Legend!
The next milestone for us was our faulty electrics. After trying a couple of tweaks, a new second-hand battery, BUS, and an unnerving number of wires being cut… We finally managed to get the essentials working; nav lights, VHF, instruments, and stereo (including the Sub of course!)
We had a working boat, safety gear, keen crew. Game on!
Unfortunately, in the last-minute rush to get ready, Lanny “forgot” to dive the boat… That’s no problem for us, we’ll play the underdog card and work our way up the ladder over the series.
On our way to the start line was our first time sailing together, the first time we put the prod on the boat, and the first time we put the gennaker up (backwards I might add) but spirits were high with the anticipation of lining up with 8 other Piedy’s!
We originally thought we might carry our gennaker out the Motuihe Channel, but the wind was a little more Northerly than we first anticipated. We decided our game plan would be to start at the Northern end of the line and find a balance between getting out of the tide and staying out of the wind.
We started well, a last-minute call to dip below two other Piedy’s put us a couple of boatlengths behind but we climbed onto their windward quarter and started the drag race to Rakino. It was quickly apparent that we were lacking a bit of boatspeed, old sails and a dirty bum definitely working against us. We decided to split from the majority of the fleet and face the extra current and sailing extra distance in favour of stronger winds. This felt like it paid off, in spite of letting a few boats past we were able to hold our ground.
As we rounded Rakino we were faced with our first tactical decision, hug the western edge or head further east. The fleet were tucking in close to Rakino so we opted to try something different to help alleviate our lack of boatspeed. We only lost a couple of lengths on the boats that stayed East so good decision in our books.
Now we had a long beat to windward, up to the Navy Markers in the Tiri Channel. We thought long and hard about where the gains would be before opting for the inshore route. The wind seemed to be a little more Northerly than forecast which left room for a left-hand shift. It was another split from the fleet, but we were confident that this was the right decision.
As we approached Tiri we had completely lost touch with the fleet. It didn’t appear that they were behind us… Bugger the left hadn’t paid off…
Wait… That’s Minx, and that’s Establo! And we’re a good couple hundred metres ahead a the cross! High-fives and a beer for the tactician at this point, we’d climbed into 6thplace now with a good downhill slide to come.
We rounded the Navy Markers and launched our Gennaker. Being new to the boat this was our biggest mistake of the day. It was a dead flat run to the Noises and we should have been using the spinnaker. Establo breezed past us and we were kicking ourselves for not having realised sooner.
Now our only chance of climbing back into second was that we could carry our gennaker after rounding the Noises. A couple of broaches before we got into the lee of the islands but we were managing to hold it. High in the lulls, low in the gusts. Right on the edge.
We started inching forward on Establo, and as the light and wind faded we drew back level. We perhaps should have peeled back to the jib to keep up under Rangitoto, watching Anarchy Racing peel from their code sail to an upwind sail should have been a good hint, but we knew as soon as we had enough height to make it around Bean Rock we would be able to show Establo a clean pair of heels.
That’s exactly what happened and we crossed the line in sixth.
We had paid dearly for our wrong sail choice downwind, 45 minutes behind fifth place, but we learned plenty and can’t wait to get back into it for the next one!