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Mix T Motions RNI Leg 3 Report

23 Mar 2011

Leg 3 - Wellington to Napier
The start day in Wellington was a stormy one, strong winds and horizontal rain. Crews were concerned with what they would find around the corner at Cape Palliser. Mix T Motions was tied up in the worst place on the marina, she was exposed to the waves coming in under the pier, it was hard to watch her violently wrenching at her mooring lines, surely something would give. Stretchy rope and fenders were borrowed to minimize it.  The forecast was for the storm to peak at 1pm and a start time of 3pm was established. The plan was to get the boats out there in enough pressure to get them as far around the corner as possible before the winds went light. The wind was still strong on the start line. We were in a conservative mood, so put a third reef in for the first time ever. For some of the boats it was a bit of a mission getting out of the marina in the strong winds. But at about 4pm we were away. It was a nice quick run out of Wellington harbour, and when we got into Palliser bay it felt like we could handle more sail, so we threw up our smallest gennaker. This helped to keep us ahead of three other boats (Windarra, Island Girl and Vesper). As we approached Cape Palliser the winds got even lighter, so we changed to our biggest gennaker (big Blue). As the wind angle changed and night approached we went to a kite. I had a bit of a Mare on the foredeck that night, with various halyards and clips not behaving themselves and our only masthead halyard ending up unclipped and at the top of the mast (bugger). If conditions allowed I would go up the mast in the morning. So it was the fractional spinnaker for the night, this sail has a really good shape and is not prone to collapsing in light rocking conditions, our position report in the morning showed we had had a good night. In the morning I went up the mast on the fractional halyard and surprised myself by managing to snare the small rope loop next to the clip with the boat hook and retrieve the halyard. After we got round Cape Turn Again (what a great name for a Cape) and in the middle of our second night at sea, conditions got rough again and we had 35 knots on the nose with a lumpy and unpredictable sea state. We were in close visual contact with Windarra during this time and managed to put some distance between them and us in the rough. The waves were not coming from the same direction as the wind. This meant that when we were on a port tack we were attacking the waves head on and the boat would slam and crash, however on the starboard tack, the action was softer but wetter as waves would break over the boat side on. We only had to endure about 12 hours of this, before the wind eased and the seas flattened out. After rounding Cape Kidnappers we were able to lay the finish line at Napier. Windarra was not far behind. It was fun racing them to the finish, and we managed to hold them off and beat them on line. Cara Vita and Physical Favours were also visible crossing the line ahead of us. 2 days and 2 hrs had elapsed. We were 2nd on handicap in our division behind Open Country (who had had a blinder). We were 11nth overall on handicap.