Leading into the Enduro Rob and I had only one goal, to finish. Our record of late had been less than optimal, in the past 3 races we had attempted to complete together one had ended with Rob in an ambulance on Russell wharf, another we had not started due to injury on the way to the start and the set was made complete by a dismasting in Bass Strait at Xmas. Finishing was the goal, this was a time for taking it easy, playing it safe and ensuring we kept our sanity by not getting becalmed. That was not going to be easy, with the water glassy calm as we made our way down to the start
That said we boosted out of the start under code zero, while the rest of the 6 boat fleet started conservatively under head sail, we skimmed the fishing lines and moored boats at Devonport and headed towards Channel Island.
Channel Island and Colville have been our nemesis for along time, if we don’t end up becalmed there then we end up over canvassed (usually in the dark) trying desperately to sort it out. The weather models all indicated an area of funkiness on the rhumb line approaching Channel Island. Importing our Predict Wind gribs into Expedition means we can manipulate the display based on wind limits making areas of low wind much easier to quickly see. At the same time variations between models, our boat instruments and land based observations can be seen and quickly compared with each source able to be displayed using the same symbology on the same screen. We set our rules, less than 10 knots and we would gybe away heading north. We gybed off heading away from Channel Island just as the first boats started to get trapped in the grips of Colville. Sanity intact!
By Channel Island the faster boats had rescued themselves from the hole and proceeded to mow us down again.
A very cold but uneventful night saw us at first light close to Mayor Island and decision to be made where we would go for the day, inshore in case the sea breeze was the only wind about, offshore where it was predicted there maybe more ? We opted for a more onshore course and enjoyed a nice day under kite closing on Whale Island. Power Play, Krakatoa and Truxton all in sight at some time during the day.
Whale to White Islands was another great opportunity for being becalmed. We both felt that the western side of the track had more promise and again, Expedition confirmed our gut instinct showing an optimised course to the west and an area of light airs to the east. Rob worked west then picked a lift on port that took us there in good time. The volcano providing a good wind vane with the steam rising vertically from the crater. We rounded and then settled down the the long board we thought would be to the Poor Knights, Expedition predicted we would be there in 1 day 17 hours ! Time for series of good sleeps.
Friday morning the breeze started to increase and finally it was time to change from the number 1 to a smaller headsail. Thankfully we reminded ourselves of our goals – we just need to finish. So we forgo the bigger sails to go to the number 4, which we used for the rest of the race.
SSANZ shortened the course by text in the middle of the day, as the wind steadily rose and waves got bigger. We both enjoyed the fast run under number 4 and reefed main from the Needles to Sail Rock. We wondered if our competitors would be running extras and knew if Chris Skinner was here he would be.
As we prepared to round Sail Rock we took the main down to ensure we could make the number 2 reef as secure as possible, but as the wind puffed above 35 knots as we rounded, we elected to sail for nearly an hour with it down. Then out of the gloom came a boat which turned out to be Krakatoa, sailing low as well just under mainsail, enough was enough with the conservative game and we hoisted the main and made best speed for the finish.
All was going well until just before the finish a series of nasty puff ripped our jib out of the foil. We finished deep reefed and bare headed, completely surprised to be second yacht to finish in the long haul, even more stunned to have won on PHRF. It is fantastic to be back after a long time off, maybe we will come out again?
Thanks to SSANZ for running such a great race, especially Jon for his hospitality and shower and to Vanessa and Steve for feeding us.
Sally & Rob