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It was a very long trip down the west coast


Starting the big leg to Wellington

ZZ top

Once in Wellington Harbour ZZ Top found some breeze

Round North Island Race 2005 Hard Labour's Leg 2 report

27 Feb 2005

Finally made it to Wellington approx 3 Sat afternoon. What a horrible leg !!! Give me a 50 knota on the nose anytime !
So what happened ?
Firstly an even better start than the first leg, launched nicely on a tight reach, however as we crossed Doubtless Bay we were gradually overtaken by all the faster or reaching boats. After 10 miles we all got kites on and proceeded to reach to North Cape and we fell back until only Mindbender (Young 88) Insight and Skiddy Too were behind at North Cape. From here it was flat running to Cape Reinga and we lost a further place to Skiddy. However having two cunning carsalesmen on board the Hard Labour does pay some dividends as we took the inside line at the corner to sneak back in front of Skiddy. Then even more cunningly we realised shortly after rounding the next cape (Maria Van Dieman) we would need to drop the kite and harden up. So we set the trap... We carried the kite reasonably high before dropping it at the last second before our radio sched. This meant Skiddy who had copied us in persisting a little with the kite had a man tied up and unable help to drop the kite for at least 20 mins! . End result a couple of wipe outs and H.L now over a mile in front. The wind then built a little so we changed to our J.T (an old No.1 recut) This sail is fantastic, reduced heel and helm loads and just went faster ! We were now peaking at 8knots in just 13-14knots true. Steve then made the big mistake of saying "Isn't it going to be a quick trip to Wellington"............yep within a hour the fleet was parked ! But a light breeze of up to 4 knots would come and go.
Over the next 12 hours H.L ground her way back up the fleet, passing ZZ Top and reentering the battle with Sliver and Young Nicholson. We were back in the race ! In the wee hours of the morning I snuck in 4-5 tacks over a 15 min period and a few shifts to finally get back in front of Young Nick, however I wanted to pass Sliver too....and tacked out once more. However this sailed us into a hole and by the morning sched we were back where we started just ahead of Skiddy and 6 miles behind Young Nick and co. I guess it was a lesson in being greedy and probably expecting a bit much from the poor old boat.  At least Steve didn't know how good we had looked before I stuffed it !
Over the next day or so we didn't move far. The whole fleet (except Bare Essentials and Hydroflow) were parked out from the Manukau. We would at times catch up those ahead only to see them catch a little breeze before us to move away again. I think our Skeds showed a distance travelled of 42 and 23 miles over 12 hours...PAINFUL
Anyway we eventually got a light breeze from the South and slowly made our way towards Mt Egmont. We got ahead of ZZ Top again but on reaching the Mt bore away a few more degrees (and wind shifted a little east) so got the spinnaker up. We knew we would have a problem with both ZZ Top and Skiddy Too as the rest of the leg would be downwind and they are both faster than us downhill. We held them out as long as possible but the enivitable happened and we lost two more spots. By now we were approaching the Cook Strait and running dead downwind (with the odd gybe) across the top of the South Island. We saw on the chart a current flow of 0.4 of a knot in our favour so lined it up. When we got there we found a flow against us of 3 knots ! Not happy at all. I have since discovered alot from a local about the area. The tides and effects are amazing. If anyone is going to be sailing in the area let me know and I can put you in touch with some great info. Knowledge of the current flows can easily halve or double your trip times ! Anyway the wind kept building and we got though the Cook Straight with a burst of 11.4 knots as our top speed for the trip. The next interesting spot was along the South Coast just before Wellington. The Karori rip is amazing. It was in our favour and at places added up to 5knots to our speed over the ground ! The final part of this coast is called the "Wind Factory" I now know why ! I have seen one article claim that in Northerly Sector winds (which we had at the time) the hills and valleys generate gusts of 20knots more than what is blowing in the Cook Strait. (add this to the current flows and its a dangerous piece of coastline) Anyway we were still racing along under spinnaker but knew we would shortly have to harden up to sail into Wellington Harbour. We debated which headsail to use but eventually chose the No.2 as we got a couple of gusts of 20 knots. This proved to be a lucky choice !
We dropped the Kite and hardened up to get a few gusts of 27knots. However the Wellington air is alot denser than Auckland and has a bit more guts to it ! As the mainsail was continually flogging we quickly put a reef in. This was the first time we had ever reefed the sail, and this was the same sail we used in the 2001 Coastal Classic which everyone claimed was so windy ! What really amazed me was how even in the lulls of 17 knots we were still fully powered up. In Auckland we would have the full main and no. 1 up !!! So we tacked our way up the harbour and reached across to finish a most frustrating leg.
I have always claimed a light airs race is tougher on you than a windy one and I still haven't changed my mind ! The constant trimming of light sheets of 4mm Spectra that just cut into your hands, the mental stress of trying to avoid the no wind patches, the reports of Hydroflow and Bare Essentials sitting on 18 knots while the rest of the fleet is doing 1.5knots. Why do we go yachting in no wind ???
Anyway I note the results are now up on the site. Looks like we did ok considering. But no yachting for today, instead scored a new Mini Cooper S (yep its the supercharged one!!) to use to rip around in. It looks cool in black and turns a few heads ! So take note at work, even when on holiday I am evaluating the competition !