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Expedition Coppelia's 2012 Round White Island Race Report

08 Jan 2013

Expedition Coppelia wins Round White Island 2012 overall.


Sally and Rob with The SSANZ Shorthanded Round White Island cup and the overall PHRF Round White Island Trophy.

In the days leading up to the White Island race, I had been somewhat remiss in my duties as navigator and had not been scouring the internet for weather information, I think deep down I just did not want to think about the possibility of a 4 plus day race!

We both tried to keep cheery faces once we finally looked at the weather on Friday morning and realised the possibility of no wind in the Bay of Plenty was real. We started at the leeward end of the line and ?jetted? off to the Rangi shore, where we exchanged many tacks with the Marshall Law.

As we entered the Motuhine Channel, my jumpy tactician tendencies got the better of me and we broke from the group of Truxton, Squealer and Marshall Law to stay left, where the wind was supposed to shift to. It was not a great move, but it did mean we ended up in the path of a pod of Orca, one which turned on it?s side and looked at Rob?s new (last summer) rudder. It was pretty special.

The wind did go left enough to allow us to pull out the zero and kick back and enjoy a most beautiful day. Once round Channel Island, I headed downstairs for a snooze and woke to find Truxton meters in front of us, the boys having sun downers and being very cheery.

We both wriggled out of the hole that we had fallen into and started to catch up with Squealer that had made a break of about a mile, first under code zero, then larger fractional (I must ask the mathematicians at work if there is a name for that) kite.

I woke with the eerie feeling of the wind being light, and came on deck to find us south of the Mercury's still proceeding down the line, with Mr Skinner still in site. It was time to gybe! Predict Wind was as close as I have ever seen it for predicting wind direction and speed, and it indicated continuing down the line would end up in a becalming. Rob said after the race that I had been quite forceful about wanting to gybe. I think I was just thinking about the guilt I feel as a numerical modeller when I turn my back on my profession and sail by the seat of my pants only to find the model is correct!

We headed offshore, and gybed back towards White Island as the south westerly started to build, following the guidance of Expedition?s optimal routing.

We rounded White Island at 11:30 ish then started the very long beat back. We could see Truxton most of the time, meaning it was our conditions, when it is their conditions they do a 300nm day and we only 150nm!

All was going most pleasantly, until we struck 25 knots of westerly within a mile of the coast inside the Mercurys. We changed down to the no 2, which ended up with us both getting wet for the first time, and Rob being a little put out that a wave had put the no 1 in the sea, with him wrestling it back on board.

The final challenge we both knew was the Colville Channel. We both had a very close look at the grib files, there was indeed an area of low wind at the top of Coromadel, where the south westerly on the east side of the peninsular and the southerly on the western side meet. This area near Channel Island has been the cause of much distress to Rob and I, most recently 40 knots of wind funnelling out of the gap and making it lumpy during the last Simrad, and in February sitting in a hole while Chris Skinner and the mighty Truxton passed us in the Round New Zealand race.

We braced for a soul wrenching becalming, we optimised our course using Expedition to try and minimise our time of slapping sails, I made soup and toast for distraction. This time the tide came to our aid, and in the time it takes to heat a tin of soup and eat it, we were back in the breeze and on our way home.

Final result : 1st on PHRF monohull, 1st PHRF shorthanded.!