Waka on video plus Leg 4 report
14 Mar 2008
Team "Waka" must be gunning for the media prize (ummm...better check if we have one !) and have now released a video of their adventure on uTube to complement their excellent leg reports
Well done guys ! A great effort.
Leg 4 Final report
After the disappointing result in Leg 3 we were determined to give the last leg our best shot.
We got the boat sorted, dried out all the sails, fixed any little issues, then relaxed and hit the yacht club Bar.
Napier is my home town and where I was brought up sailing dinghys and cruising our family keelboat, up and down the coast, so this stopover was especially important to me. Some of my first memories are fishing off the wharf and catching crabs on the launching ramp while waiting for Mum and Dad to finish their ?few quiet ones? at the Yacht Club.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we all got hopelessly drunk at the yacht club that night drinking jugs of rum and coke and talking drunken bollocks.
The next day Half the crews went on a wine trail around the legendary Hawkes bay Vineyards while the other half stayed and worked on the boats. I decided to stay and avoid myself the temptation of copious amounts of alcohol??..
Napier had put on an awesome stopover with the best yacht club food I have ever eaten and jugs of rum and coke going around by the dozen. It was sad to say good bye but also a relief to be on the water again and into it.
There was ZERO wind for the start but we managed to get away cleanly at the pin end and flopped our way into the lead with Ran tan along side. It took some of the boats over 30 minutes to cross the start line!
Ourselves and rantan managed to get into the new NE wind first and took off to a handy lead.
Accompanied by a huge school of dolphins we sailed towards Portland island hard on the wind in 8-10kts. Slowly but surely the 50fters cruised past us, then the 40fters. We managed to hold off all the other div 3 boats to lead our division around the island. A quick peel to the #2 headsail was followed by another peel to the #4 and shortly latter a reef as the wind rose to 20 then 25kts from the exact direction we wanted to go?.
We had got quite used to this sail combination and knew that we would be fast but really uncomfortable.
We headed offshore as we knew there would be more breeze and the possible chance of a parkup inshore, slowly the breeze lifted and we ended up trapped offshore with a dreadfull heading back in. So we just chugged away up the coast on port lifting the whole way. The conditions were actually quite horrendous, with a solid 20-25kts all night and the following day with a lumpy sea to go with it.
We really discovered how much the boat leaked as we bailed with buckets every hour. At one stage we left it for about 2 hours and ended up with a huge mission to get it dry again (the word ?dry? became a relative term..) and a solid hour on the buckets, sails were floating around along with the bean bag, all full of water. The bailing was a low point of the race and bloody unpleasant. The water was sloshing right around the sides of the hull and actually landing on you from above! It was far too hot to wear the wet weather gear so you ended up getting soaked by either spilling half a bucket on yourself or getting caught out by a ?rouge wave? sloshing around inside the boat. No matter how you looked at it, it was just plain miserable.
This routine continued for the whole night and most of the next day.
Eventually after a few tacks we had east cape in sight and could see 2 boats just ahead. These 2 ended up being mrs jones(?) and second nature (we think) so we were pretty happy to have stayed with them for a 150nm dead beat in 20-25kts of wind. 40 hrs of hiking hard with very little sleep had paid off.
As the sun went down we were crossing tacks with the 2 boats in hicks bay before heading out into the middle of the bay of plenty. That night was uneventfull and we just plodded upwind in 10-15kts of wind.
By morning the wind was very light and was shifting wildly around from the NE to the NW and back.
We tried to just stay on the making board at all times and just make as many miles towards Colville as possible.
As night fell the wind became really shifty and we ended up getting a huge 25kt puff out of the SW and laid thru to colville, passing in between the mercs, with the good old sail combo of #4 and 1 reef.
We went around collvile just before sunrise with danaide right behind us. We knew this because they relayed our VHF call to SSANZ sports radio.
Once again hard on the wind to motuihe passage with Danaide gaining rapidly in the fresh breeze, as the breeze died we went to the #2 and full main and managed to pull away just getting through Motuihe passage before the tide changed giving us a gain on Danaide.
When we heard White bait call up at Colville we were ecstatic to hear that we were still ahead of them.
The wind got lighter and lighter and we hoisted a gennaker (for the first time since wellington!) at the first container wharf fighting a 2 kt tide and a dead flat run in 0-5kts. It took us about an hour and a half to cover the last few hundred meters and we could see Danaide behind with a kite set making gains.
After crawling along the break wall to get out of the tide we crossed the finish line just after midday to a round of applause from the shore and some loud cheers for some of the crews of the bigger boats that had already finished and had been on the piss for a few hours.
The kite had only been up for a total of about 1 hr the whole 680nm from wellington to Auckland and being the smallest lightest boat in the fleet we had struggled to keep up with the bigger boats upwind and just cracked.
It was awesome to finish but also very sad that that the whole event was over. It had been an epic 2 weeks with some awesome highs and some rock bottom lows.
We both had a real sense of achievement from this race and it was nice to not only finish but to do it with a good result in conditions that were far from suitable for a down wind boat.
Many people had told me that this was a mad mans voyage in Waka, and all the comments like ?I hope you have an up to date will? and ?its ok you both have good looking woman so they will be able to find another bloke when you don?t return?..? had actually now became funny with no chance of becoming a reality! (well- we still had to survive the party on Cookies launch?.)
Although the conditions had made it as hard as possible for us, we were still 5th overall in a very competitive fleet, and took overall honours in the longest Leg from Mangonui to Wellington.
Huge Thanks have to go to Cookie and Steve Ashley for the efforts both on the water and in the ?shore based activities? at the bar. Also Cameron Thorpe for his time with the website.
All the organizers and supporters in each port made this event an absolute dream to compete in. There was nothing better than having a fresh person on board in each port to help you drop the sails and pack the boat up. There are 2 many to name so I won?t start in far that I may leave someone out!
And Lastly our sponsors-
North Sails NZ, for the sails.
EAS, for the meal replacement shakes, energy bars and energy Gells.
Gill Marine Gear, for the full sets of Gill ?key west? wet weather.
Leading edge boat builders (Gary Patten), for the foot chocks and loads of little extras.
Will I be back? HELL YEAH!!!