Communique SIMRAD 60
A dark morning as I drive thru the CBD to Westhaven, no rain but no wind either. I struggle down to Communique with Stew, both of us laden with food. I left home with “Don’t wait up darling I will be late home”. At least we won’t starve.
Motoring to the start area in a flat calm sipping a cappuccino and thinking at least the batteries will be good for the long night ahead. SSANZ run to schedule, a feature I always like and have laid a nice starting line with the pin relatively forward on the course. A leeward start for a small slow cruising boat is an easy choice. So it proves to be a nice start but from Browns Island onward the slow day gets into its stride. We are passed by Stewarts with vast spinnakers and a very fruited up Challenge 29 from our division. Towards Beachlands a large group of VMG sailors develops, to leeward several very patient boats do well including Hot Gossip and Romany 2 sliding quietly along the Waiheke shore.
By mid-afternoon we are approaching Passage Rocks and witness some extreme VMG sailing as the fleet converge for the corner of the Island. Our very rhumb line course has us at the back of the pack. However we all drift forward in contact. It is quite apparent a breakaway group have sailed a VMG strategy very successfully and these boats are quite faint in the distance. Around us are many others who have not made this approach work and we speculate on what their “distance run” might look like.
I am very impressed to see 3 boats hard against the Ponui Island shore, these boats go through the passage to the South of Pakatoa and one at least one a Y88 (Rush) makes it pay handsomely to be in the bunch at Kauri point. From Kauri point staying off shore and timing the spinnaker drop well is a vital decision. On board Promise, Steve does a headie change while carrying on under kite. We urgently consult channel 21 trying to guess what it is that Steve knows that we don’t, it must be plenty, so we carryon. We drop the kite in the last of the daylight and head on around Thumb Point towards Rakino.
From Kauri Point we are in a large bunch and these boats sort themselves out on the uphill grind after Thumb Point. It seems a comfortable lay through however just short of Rakino a westerly shift of 30 degrees has us tacking to clear the island and its outlying reef. One larger boat sails all over us some where past the Ahaah Rocks and I blame “some big average white boat”. In the Rakino Passage this is revealed to be Romany 2 and in a soft patch around Billy Goat Point we slip away from them.
Heading up the Motatapu shore I am anxious not to tack into Administration Bay, a tricky enough area in daylight so we stand out to sea until the temptation to be on the “paying tack” gets the better of us and we tack in towards the Gardiner Gap. On tacking out again we cross a couple of familiar boats, Romany and Settlers Reach. Back onto starboard tack well before we can clear the island we are rewarded with a persistent westerly shift and we follow another boat around Rangi light. On to the finish with channel 77 alive with familiar calls. We know Wandering Star, Perfect Alibi and John Barleycorn have done well. For the rest we will have to wait and see the results.
The next morning the results flatter us, 4th we are pleased; after all we were 7th in this race last year, so it is a healthy trend. The post on the SSANZ site that really amuses me is the video of the start. The display of barging can only be explained by “advanced stupidity”. My great friend Gil Hedges looking down from the ultimate vantage point must be shaking his head at the ignorance of those unable to recognise “coffin corner” in the start.
14 Jul. 13