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Communique B&G Simrad 100 report

08 Sep 2008

SIMRAD 100 The Big Windward/Leeward


Standing in the hot shower at 0530 Sunday I have finally stopped shaking and shivering after the most grueling windward/leeward race of my memory. The aches and pains and the bruising will take longer to pass. I wonder what my chance of a back rub is? (small or none).


It begins with a most unsimrad day. Mild with a moderate southerly, will it be postponed to a more typical day? It is to be course one, a visit to Baby Barrier. Port gybe looks the go for the start but mindfully of the gennaker advocates we start with the number #1 up by the wharf for maneuverability and sure enough before we are fully spinnakered along comes a couple of prodders Josh and a fellow traveler on starboard we do an untidy wriggle but nothing is lost and we are soon rumbling. Playbuoy and Share Delight are to leeward and very low. We watch a master hug the Rangi Shore and then between Salt Works and Rangilite rocket forward at 1.5 to our 1. Truly this is a lesson to be learnt and applied on another day.


In keeping with my application of "the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line" we are rhumb line to Bollons Rock and seem to be going OK with little traffic. It is a pleasant rather square run. A cup of tea and a count up of the matches for the stove and the tea bags reveals we will be rationing the hot drinks. Play Buoy and the two nearby F1020s plunge SE. What do they know that I don't? After Tiri is all is revealed as Cool Bear rumbles up to us having clearly stayed outside Tiri. However Justin disappears to the NE.


Closing on Little barrier it is clear that coming in from the SE has been good. We have been absolutely square and have done well in relation to anyone to the NW. I have managed a "nana nap" in anticipation of the night ahead. Rounding Little Barrier I am astounded to see the boats hugging the shore sail away in a dramatic lift where I had anticipated a wind shadow, while to seaward others rumble past leaving us in a no mans land.


By 1630 we are hard on the wind in the lumpy seas. It is the "mother of all beats" 40 miles of it. The forecast has discussed an Easterly in the evening and we stick to starboard tack. At 1800 with the main ragging and clinging to the cockpit  coamings an increasing struggle it is headsail change to #2. Seemingly much beater and a small VMG gain to boot. Around 2000 a glance at the plotter shows us closer to Port Jackson than Tiri, time to tack. We are laying our waypoint of Shearer Rock. Gradually we are lifting and by the time we are 15 mile out from Rangilite the wind has eased and we change back to #1. By 0100 we are parked with Rangilite in sight but not a breath of wind. I am shaking with the chill and the exhaustion. Some scroggin and am mouthful of water has no reviving effect.


Creeping up the harbour is hope and despair in equal doses. A large parking lot loams up at North Head. The easterly is still blowing out in the channel so a big loop fetches us up outside the Tamaki Yacht Club a dog leg to avoid the reef and the sewer beacon but to no avail. Eventually at 0400 we finish on the back of the bunch in a light Easterly. F9.2s ahead and behind, well done to Cool Bear, 2 minutes in front and Hot Gossip a few seconds behind. It has been the climax of a hard series. We went into this race with 2 PHRF wins from 2 races but will not prevail in the series. The very steady performance of Hot Gossip on PHRF will give her the well deserved silverware and we will contemplate what might have been. This race will remain unfinished business for Communique, a challenge for another time.


Fendall Halliburton