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Danaide Time Penalty

14 Mar 2008

I was planning on doing a report on the whole race when I had a chance to catch up on work and sleep but these are both being interrupted by friends phoning to find out about our time penalty so thought I had better fill everyone in, as I am having enough trouble with not being able to have a sleep every 3 hours and who made this rule that you aren't able to drink until after work?

Anyway getting back to Leg 4, but before that a little back ground , Paddy and I like to do all the work on our boats ourselves, mainly because we are tight and when you are 100nm offshore it really helps to now how things work and why. So we put a new motor and sail drive in the boat between Christmas and New Year with the help of a few mates, we also upgraded the autohelm with a new course computer and Paddy overhauled the drive unit to effectively give us a new Raymarine ST6000  S3G (which not only steered the boat almost as well as us but can do it for hour after hour) and generally went through everything from stem to stern as in these events it is often the little things that let you down. The only thing that I got done by anyone was the rig, After baking a runner in the White Island race I need some new ones made up and also the furler needed an overhaul so I told the rigger he may as well do a rig check and tune, which was completed a week before the start.

Getting back to Leg 4, after a slow start we had got all the boats that should be and a few more behind us by Mahia and settled into the usual routine of 3 hours watches for the night .Full main and #3 all night and by morning we were truck along the coast hard on the wind and dropping off just a little in 25kts and building with 2m swells, by lunch time the swell had built a bit more and so had the wind and by now we were crashing through quite a few waves so as we were 15nm SE of East Cape we tacked over hoping to lay it or close to, but after tacking we found our speed had dropped to 5's from 7's and we could only point about 60deg . So we started looking for the problem and on looking up the rig we found that the now windward Cap shroud had detached from the lower spreader obviously before we tacked and now with no support the other one had also detached. So now we had a mast that didn?t look to healthy so we dropped the main hoping to be able to keep the boat sailing on the headsail and see what we can do only to find that the main had been supporting the mast and under compression of the headsail the mast now had the rigidity of cooked spaghetti. We then decided that our only chance of keeping the boat under the mast was to motor for sheltered water so we started the motor and headed for Port Awanui (which by the way is no port) I then phoned Dave Cooke to tell him what we were doing and that we would let him know we had made repairs. 3 hours motoring across the swells at 5kts had us anchored in somewhat more sheltered water with just a 1/2m roll coming abeam of us. There we were able to slacken off the rigging and I went up and reattached everything and lashed them around the front of the mast to prevent anything coming apart again. We had been at anchor for only 45min by the time we had retention the rig and found that the rigger hadn?t put the lock screws in any of the rigging screws. Even thou 4 boats had sailed through us but we were safe and still in one peace, we let Dave Cooke know that we were underway again and set sail for East Cape.

After rounding the Cape it took us 4 tacks to get across Hicks Bay and looking at the plotter we were pushing tide so we decided to go north, which found us outside the rhumb line at day light but in good breeze on a lifting board which we held till abeam of White Is then with a big knock we were able to almost lay course on the other board which ended up lifting us right through to Channel Is. Not really knowing how much time we had lost we were delighted to find that Second Nature and Waka were the two ahead as the sun rose on the Hauraki Gulf.

After finishing we handed in our declaration as to what we had done. And at the hearing the committee decide that we didn't make any gains from what we did but were advantaged by being able to motor to shelter to make repairs so they gave us a time penalty of 1 hours which we felt was better that not finishing at all.

Jon Henry