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Zen withdraws, Gale Force heading for shelter

23 Feb 2011

Rough seas off the west coast of the North Island have caused two yachts in the SSANZ Round North Island two-handed fleet to turn back, on the longest leg from Mangonui to Wellington.

Zen, a Bakewell White 35, has withdrawn from the race after crewman Mark Winters injured his back, and the team aboard Elliott 1050 Gale Force (David Mason and Cameron Thorpe) has told race organisers they are heading for shelter from the rough seas.

Zen is returning to Mangonui, and Gale Force may also have to go back around Cape Reinga, as there are no easily accessible safe harbours on the west coast. At the 6.30am sched this morning both Zen and Gale Force were both a few miles south of the cape.

The forecast for the Kaipara sea area in which the yachts are racing was for seas becoming rough for a time, with a northerly swell rising to 4 metres for a time north of Cape Reinga and a southwest swell of 3 metres easing. The swell is not expected to subside for several days.

The remaining 35 yachts are currently on the wind, heading down the North Island west coast. At the 6.30am sched, Cookson 50 Akatea was in the lead, followed by M1 and Karma Police. The lead yachts are currently  off the Hokianga, with the tail enders off Ninety Mile Beach. The first yachts are expected in Wellington late Friday or early Saturday.