Romany 2's B&G Simrad 100 2013 report
13 Aug 2013
We had a fearful warning from Met Service, claiming that the wind was going to be 10 knots more than all the other services were saying. Occasionally they do get it right, but on this day they were out of step with reality. What all the forecasts agreed was that it was going to be wet, and the wind would increase till about 3:00pm and go right pretty much all the time.
As our boat is fully powered with its #2 furler in 15 knots of true breeze, I decided to opt for this sail at the start, instead of making the more sensible choice of starting with #1 and changing down to the smaller sail on the long broad reach to Motuora. I had hoped that we would have close to 15 knots by start time, but there was only about 10 knots by my guess.
We started really well at the pin, more or less alone down there with everyone else up by the start boat. We sailed along in splendid isolation for a while until the rest of the fleet filtered down to our line from further to windward, but we were too slow with the small sail, so got passed by a number of the yachts in our fleet by the time we hoisted the spinnaker a few hundred metres before Emu point.
From there it was a slightly interesting reach along the Eastern side of Motutapu ? it tended to be a bit tight at times, but was always manageable for us as Romany is incredibly polite under pressure, and soon we were eased off and on a very broad reach towards Motuora island.
At this time, we were in the company of John Barleycorn and a Stewart 34 which started with us but was not in our division. The wind was still light, not enough to really give us any power, and we were only making 5 knots or so here, so decided to heat up and try for a bit more speed ? much to the disgust of the Stewart 34 who we had to pass to windward to get out to that right-hand side. We cleared their air as quickly and politely as we could and hopefully did not cause them any noticeable loss.
It was a bit dull and boring along here, but we could see the Farr 9.2 Hot Gossip out ahead, and also the T32 Wandering Start. Stratocaster (a Davidson 37) had shot out way to the right and was sailing wide and fast. We kept on along a line slightly right of centre, and hoped that the wind would allow us to get back left enough to pass through the Tiri Channel.
When we did make our gybe, we were not far behind Hot Gossip, and a Young 88 that we had been close to had moved away somewhat ? no big surprise there. Wandering Star were holding a lead of about 300m and we were making no gains on them. Startocaster had sailed outside Tiri and now came across from the right, they were ahead of Wandering Star, but not by a very long distance. As we crossed back on port gybe, we had to pass a couple of boatlengths behind John Barleycorn who are handicapped a bit slower than us, but that Spencer 32 slips along very nicely with their kite up, and I think they may even be slightly quicker than us in that wind strength.
Through the lee of Motuora, we were able to draw level with and overtake John Barleycorn, and catch up to Hot Gossip, so that is how we set off towards Flat Rock on the 2-sail reach. We did not do our best work along here, as we did not make much ground on Hot Gossip and we SHOULD be a bit faster than them. We in fact rounded Flat Rock almost together and began the long beat to Tarahiki Island.
We were determined to stay right of course all day, as we were reasonably convinced that the wind would tend right, and we were following in the wake of Wandering Star. Hot Gossip and John Barleycorn went further left, and honestly we never saw either of them again. There was a Young 88 that we had been close to before sailing similar lines to us, and in the 18 knots or so of breeze, we were ever so slightly lower than them while doing the same speed. We tried a few things along the way, but basically we were sailing with traveller fairly well up, and trying to get better than 6 knots out of the boat, while fairly often lifting the inner tell-tales on the headsail. The beat was OK, but very bumpy on the Starboard tack, but quite smooth on Port. We needed acceleration on the Starboard tack, as the waves were sometimes enough to slow us below 5 knots. Wandering Star was generally moving away from us at this time, though I was not overly surprised considering the performance of a T32 to windward in lumps. The Young 88 was also making gains and going away.
At some point, we were holding our place right of the rhumb line when the wind went right a bit. Wandering Star crossed us from the left but we had made some gains from being further right. The wind was now lifting us on Starboard almost to Gannet rock, and as we expected it to continue to clock right, we held on. That wind shift was obviously significant, as we had picked up maybe 100 to 150m on Wandering Star, and they had not been that far to our left.
About now we were still banging into these waves and struggling to hit 6 knots of boatspeed ? often knocked back to just over 5. I said to Andrew, ?We need another way of sailing this boat completely. Another paradigm. This is just wrong and we should be faster.? I let the traveller down, and kept on sailing and letting it down further till we could sail with the headsail telltales properly flowing all the time, occasional outside flutter or inside flutter only when dodging the bigger waves. Now we really started to get moving ? we were doing over 6 knots most of the time, and only slowing to 5.5 in the worst hits. I thought we would lose a lot of height, but it did not happen, so now we were a lot faster but still making similar height ? a revelation to this boat owner.
It all is so damn obvious really, the boat is a maximum volume cruiser and is very wide (3.6m for a 10m boat) and the sheeting angles are wide also. Sailing with the main up the traveller was simply forcing the 2 sails to work in different breeze directions, so it should not be any surprise that the boat could not perform well like this. Now we were competitive on pace and height with Wandering Star, provided we sailed the boat OK. Pity we only worked this out so late in the beat. We were able to stay ahead of Wandering Star for the rest of the beat to Tarahiki Island.
As it happened the line we had taken worked perfectly for us. We never had to ease sheets, and we never had to tack, so we could not have judged that beat any better.
Around Tarahiki was dark, and the ride up the East shore of Waiheke was interesting. We fell in a couple of light patches, but so did everyone. We were overtaken by something going MUCH faster than us, we think it was Stratocaster.
Whe we rounded Thumb Point and set off on the 2 sail reach towards Rakino, Stratocaster tended to move away from us slightly. We did overtake 1 SR26 that had been ahead of us , but were also eventually overtaken by another SR26 along here. Again, not our very best work along this reach, but we were doing between 7 and 8 knots the whole way, with the SR26 going just a hair quicker than us ? I guess it was Motorboat. Wandering Star was visible behind and to windward, quite close still.
In the wind shadow of Rakino, we did lose a little ground to the SR26, and we came out of there with a Stewart 34 close behind, and also Wandering Star. Now we were on the beat down the Rabgi Channel to the finish. Form my experiences on Romany II In all previous racing, I would expect that we would now watch these 2 quickly sail past us and disappear, but with our new sail trim working for us, we were just a tad better than the S34, and about even with the T32, so we crossed tacks with both of these yachts down the harbour towards the finish. Wandering Star crossed ahead of us once, but we were able to get cross just ahead of them on the second last tack of the race, where we then had to tack to avoid the Farr 1020 L?Avanti (we had not seen them the whole day). The 3 yachts were sailing almost together on a line towards the sewer beacon past North Head. We were able to move forward on Wandering Star, and pull ahead of them, but the Farr 1020 was too high for us and going OK, so we were fairly even with them and had to wait for them to tack before we could make our tack for the finish boat.
In the end, we finished just a few boatlengths aft of L?Avanti, and about a minute ahead of Wandering Star.
In the results, we see John Barleycorn has notched up another bullet, and Wandering Star another second, so those two boats are looking good in the series, well done to them.
I am personally absolutely delighted with our own race. We did not sail spectacularly well, the usual issues of inconsistent speed on the 2-sail reaches, but I am just so happy to have found a way to sail Romany II so that we can compete to windward better.
Having Andrew Neame with me for this race was a change, as Tony my regular crew was in Oz for this weekend. Andrew did a fantastic job, and helmed the boat for most of the time. His experience on other boats was valuable, his crew-work and helming excellent, and he was great company. The day was a bit dismal and rainy, and not terribly exciting, but this is the best I have felt about a Simrad race in Romany II.
I am REALLY looking forward to the last race.