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ATL B&G Simrad

Motorboat's ATL B&G Simrad 100 2013 report

15 Aug 2013

Motorboat race report - race 2

After watching the forecast all week it was obvious this race was not going to suit an SR26 by any stretch of the imagination. With predict wind saying 20 knots and met service saying 35-45, both from the same wind direction, E and tending to the S, it seemed to me the race committee would choose course 2 as that would give us a more true windward beat than the little barrier course. With that in mind it was looking like it was going to be a heinous slog from flat rock to shag island if the msetservice?s predictions came true. Having not sailed upwind in a lot of breeze in the boat yet (the most we have sailed in is around 30 knots) I?m guessing the cut off for a SR26 to actually be able to sail upwind even half decently with no crew weight on the rail is probably around 35 knots. I just can?t see how we would be able to make any significant headway upwind in a solid 40 knots with rough sea but we were prepared to give it a shot, especially for a sleigh ride to kawau. So after giving the boat a clean on Friday night we prepared the boat for battle, race main off, cruising main on which is smaller and flatter and did some final prep work. Needless to say we were rather disappointed with the light airs that greeted us on Saturday morning. We took a slightly conservative approach at the start, starting to windward in the second row with the #1. While the line was bias to the leeward end, starting to leeward of a large fleet on a reach when you?re the shortest boat is not a smart option. We were one of the first to peel and put up the fractional gennaker before illiomana beckon (sorry spelt that wrong) which paid off nicely for us, by the time we peeled to the masthead kite just after home bay on motutapu we were sitting comfortably in 4th place behind the Pawn Broker, Pepe and Shreks house, all of who had jumped out to a considerably lead. The light airs run to motuora island was a little painful with the small main and lacking a bit of area in the spinnaker as well (due to a whoops of leaving a kite at home). This saw the rattle n rum pass us in tiri passage with Mercenary close behind. The breeze slowly started picking up and we changed the headsail on the foredeck over to the number 2 in preparation for the 2 sail to flat rock. We picked a nice line behind motuora where we dropped the chute and managed to make some good gains on the boats around us, some of who struggled to get consistent breeze through the lee of the island, though some of this was luck. As we settled into the 2 sail the breeze was probably around 16 knots and the boat was going nicely. The rattle n rum was about 100m ahead and the Mercenary about 200m behind. We had some nice speed along the 2 sail which was quite surprising, and by the time we got to flat rock we had rolled an 88 and were 20m behind the rattle, with Pepe and Shreks house about 11 mins ahead. 
We hardened up around flat rock and settled ourselves into the long windward beat and confirmed our game plan. We had agreed we wanted to go right, but how much was going to depend on the angles we could sail out of flat rock, we were about 30 degs below course to the bottom end of waiheke, so we threw in a tack towards tiri about 5 mins after passing flat rock. This gave us some leverage as we lead the fleet right since the Pawn Broker, Pepe and Shreks house had all continued left from flat rock. This paid huge dividend?s as the breeze went 15 degrees to the right as we sailed towards Tiri. We tacked back about half way between flat rock and tiri and crossed behind the Pepe, we reckoned we were only 3 mins behind them ? awesome! so far so good, however starboard tack was painful, with the boat being the lightest and smallest in the fleet (along with Rattle and Mercenary) we expected to be punished on this leg and it was bang crash that?s for sure, not overly windy (maybe 20 knots) but the waves were coming straight as us and dodging them was near on impossible. As we settled in for the long starboard leg it became apparent that we weren?t doing as badly as we thought we would, we were holding the 88?s and gaining on other boats. 
Our plan had been to tack about 5 deg below the starboard layline to allow for some extra right hand movement in the wind direction during the day, while still gaining out of the movement but not overlaying. We determined we hadn?t gone far enough right as we were still 15 degrees below the lay so when we east of tiri we put another dig out right and came back where we wanted to. By this time Pepe was sitting about 1 mile to windward, the shreks house was still out leftm we couldn?t see the pawn broker anymore, the rattle n rum was about 300m behind us, we couldn?t see the mercenary and 88?s were all around. The boat seemed to be going really well with the #2 and full main (the small one). We were thankful we didn?t have the race main as it would have been flogging to death and we would have been overpowered. 
After all the expectation of an ass kicking from hewy we didn?t see much more than 20 knots for the whole beat. As we made our way to waiheke the breeze slowly clocked right as we thought it would and we got lifted up perfectly. After doing a slight dip to avoid gannet rock just as it got dark we laid through to shag island with one final stretch of bang crash splash waves off hookes bay. We rounded shag island just behind the lead bunch of 88?s and after some flumbing around in the dark on the bow by yours truly we got the mast head chute up and were off back towards hookes bay. Hoisting the chute up really paid off as there were a few boats who 2 sailed and we quickly passed all the 88?s. We had a glamour drop of the kite at hookes and set up for the long 2 sail to rakino, again another unfavourable leg due to lack of waterline length. We managed to get towed for about half of the distance to rakino, firstly by Stu on the flash Gordon. We sat on their quarter wake about 1.5 boats lengths behind them on their windward hip which gave us about another .5 knots of boat speed though I?m sure they wanted us to piss off as our nav lights would have been rather bright in their eyes. After a while we dropped off their wake and carried on by ourselves, it was rather daunting looking backwards as there were a lot of lights and they were all catching us. One particular set of lights came through about 2 boat lengths to windward and we discovered it was shreks house. This instantly upped our spirits a bit as the windward beat to shag island had gone better than we thought. Unfortunately we couldn?t quite get up to catch their wake for another tow. We finally managed to hook another ride with tickled pink from before Maria island right to rakino. 
As we were approaching rakino the breeze got up a bit more to the most we had seen all day, maybe 22-24 knots and we discussed putting in a reef but decided to leave it until after rakino. Once through the light spot behind rakino we settled in to the last leg home. The breeze dropped a little making the decision to not reef a good one. We discussed at length which way to go, either bang rangi or cross the channel to east coast bays, we opted for the later and headed toward the bays. We were in good company with a couple of 88?s, the Stratocaster and shreks house a few hundred meters in front. After looking at the finish times I don?t think there was much difference between the east coast bays and the rangi shore, we sailed more distance but didn?t have to sail through the main stream of tide. We finished around 12.20, about 8 minutes behind the shreks house and 4 mins behind Stratocaster, fairly close after another 2 hours on the wind so we were happy but shattered. 
The body certainly took a hiding having to put up with the bang crash for so long (though I?ll point out it was nothing compared to the last RNI). Once again James was awesome to have as crew and we would have swapped around driving at least 20 times throughout the race so that the guy on the helm was always as fresh as possible. We ended up doing better than we thought we could in those conditions, but were disappointed that we didn?t get a good downwind sleigh ride, oh well, here?s hoping that happens in the last race, though truth be told we are hoping for another drift off. Bring it on! 

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