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B&G Simrad

B&G Simrad 2011

Communique's B&G Simrad 100 2011 report

12 Sep 2011


A Little Barrier Epic, the Communique story.

Friday morning was a beautiful day to be alive, first day of the RWC but critically the last day for preparation for the SIMRAD 100. A last chance wash from Sharpie, too long a day out sailing to be dragging along any kling ons.

The day started slowly with fog and little wind but a determined race management team sent the fleet away on schedule. No namby pamby "not enough wind for proper sailing" for these boys. A nice start from the pin under headsail, but well to weather Hot Gossip showed that spinnakers were the go and we followed suit trailing in the wash of Azure. Approaching Saltworks Beacon the light south easterly made its exit and was replaced with the first breathes of the northerly. A very timely change to our headsail enabled us to keep clear of the ruck. A large Beneatau demonstrated the importance of deeper water just inshore of us and this prompted us to tack, and with the new breeze hooking right as we went on, this got us to Rangi Lite well placed.

Looking up the course toward Tiri I was reminded of the coaches' advice to my children, "find your lane, hold it, and sail". This we did, laying through to Tiri in a single board. We appeared to lift off the fleet to leeward and the boats more to the east appeared to lift away from us also. Close to the Island the wind veered more Northerly and we saw most of the fleet tack over. Tacking around Shag Rock we debated the argument for a corner but felt the breeze had settled as forecast and resolved to sail the rhumbline tacking as and when we could observe the oscillating shift.

With Flat Rock insight we saw Sergey and Short Circuit along with John Barley Corn, the winner of the first race coming out from the direction of Kawau on our left. Maybe the left has paid, further on 12 miles from LB Hot Gossip appeared from our right and tacked ahead. Damn, the worst of all scenarios both corners have paid at the expense of the middle, God really does love a corner banger after all.

With dusk as we approached LB, time for more clothes, a warm drink, and turn on all the lights. Hot Gossip seemed to be pulling away as we closed on the East Cape. An effect helped by some weary tacks from us. Tacking up the eastern coast past Rock point to Hingaia Point we could see quite a concentration of nav lights a short distance ahead. Tacking with a close eye on the chart plotter we had a moonlight view of cliffs and steep pebble beaches. With a last tack to clear Hingaia we crossed in front of the Townson 32 Delicado. Not where we would have expected to see her after all day hard on the wind. Clearing Ngatamahine Point it was spinnaker time, with the frustration of darkness we battled for the set, but once under way took a deep breath and speculated on the ride home. Never imagining that a truly memorable roller coaster lay ahead.

With the soup and buns behind us I began to study the nav lights ahead. Running very square with a building sea under us I was reminded of the instruction from Simon Cook to my children in the Starling years and began "S curving" down the swells. Approaching Kawau Point this became quite spectacular with prolonged surfing interspersed with an anxious study of the chart plotter, the darkness of Kawau seemed so close. We were intrigued to see one set of nav lights ahead become very erratic, this was revealed to be a very wine glassed Hot Gossip.

A gybe for the Tiri passage gave us a hotter angle and we celebrated with a rum and OJ. The nite had turned into a serious yacht thriller. While we now had no contact with the fleet we surfed on in our own world marvelling at the sleigh ride. Approaching Rangi Lite we found not only the TWS climbing past 25 put the steep seas characteristic of this approach gave an added thrill as the water foamed over the bow and ran off the side decks. Closing on North Head it all began to feel a bit marginal but our luck held and the lights of the finish boat approached quickly. A call on the VHF received a cheery reply and in only a few minutes we were able to exchange a wave. Kite down and home to Westhaven . On our berth I marvelled at how windy it now seemed.

In the morning our score line 4,4,1, job done.

Definitely never too old to rock and roll and certainly too young to die.

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Fendall Halliburton & Stewart Halliwell.