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Azure. Photo from

Hard Labour Race Report SIMRAD 100 2006

10 Sep 2006

So thats it all over for another year...

After the big breeze of the first two races we found the final race to be a anti climax. Metservice predicted big things, but it never really happened. They never predicted any parkups or the completely random wind as you approached the finish line.

So what happened onboard the "Hard Labour". Firstly the start was a disaster (B#$%dy typical, the one race we have a photographer on a RIB). Running late and ended up 5th row at 8 buoy stuggling to lay. In fact we were so far back "Grunty Chicken" who jumped the gun had time to go around 8 buoy and still recross the startline ahead. Even worse "Hanse Off", our main competition for the Shorthaul division fastest elapsed time trophy had got a great start and were off and gone.

After a few quiet mutterings we got into the job ahead and started to work our way back up the fleet. Luckily for us most of the competition had chosen No 2 headsails due to the forecast. We had gone for the 1, hoping we could make a gain and change quickly if we had to. Once past Rangi light the extra power paid dividends enabling us to drive though the waves without stopping. We noticed Share Delight made a gain hard over by Rangi so bit the bullet and tacked over. A series of tacks later and we found the right was paying big time (not entirely sure why...we got smoother water but less tidal assistance and forecast had breeze going left ???) so rather than go with what we thought we went for what worked ! We were quickly up to second behind Share Delight and closing in. By Rakino we were at the front of the shorthaul fleet (bar the 2 50ft Elliott cruisers) and with a slight wind shift found ourselves on the wind all the way to the bottom end of Waiheke.

The breeze had softened a touch and we had made a good gain on the fleet who were persisting with No.2's. Next was a cracked sheets reach to Shag Island. We decided to avoid the windshadow and make a conservative rounding but still fell in a big hole. At least we got out the otherside first and could extend away a little. It was once we got to Shag Island that the wind started to play games. First it built quickly to 20 knots, which was getting hard to handle on a reach to Flat Rock, and then as soon as we were about to change sails it all but died. 90 degree shifts became common before the breeze died completely. We were furthest north and furthest west and were lucky to be the first into the breeze when it eventually filled in several hours later. By now Revolution had sailed up to second place and was the only boat in sight behind us.

The tight reach to Flat Rock was uneventful apart from getting fairly windy as we rounded. We set the small spinnaker as we headed to Motuora, but had to change to the big one shortly after as the wind died to about 7 knots. A gybe around Motuora and a super tight kite ride to Tiri Channel before a very light airs run to the finish. Hot angles and keeping the boat moving were critical and once inside Rangi light it was a minefield. On crossing the finish line we were very glad about finishing at Orakei rather than Westhaven as we once used to.

Official results are yet to come out but I don't think anyone slipped past in the night. We extended our lead on the way home (Jono, it must have been hell coming back without a spinnaker) and think we sailed a pretty good race.

Interestingly I bet more people talk about the first two races and the excitement of racing in strong wind than the challenges of the last race. I think more people will agree with me now when I say it's the light races that are the tougher ones.