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Hard Labour's NZ Rigging 60 2016 report

12 Jul 2016

Having last raced the SSANZ Safety at Sea Triple Series (or it's previous equivalent) onboard the Hard Labour back in 2011 and having seen the embarrassing photos of my brothers efforts last year (refer images below)... it was decided to come out of retirement and restore some pride for the poor old boat.

So first step was finding a crew... A quick call soon convinced Tim Holgate (other part of the legendary Surreal Round New Zealand Race team) to also come out of retirement and we were the first boat entered for the series.

The next decision was what division... The Farr 1020's had organised a class division with a shorter long race. This was much to our disappointment as we wanted the extra challenge of trying to regain the Advance Trident Cup for the quickest elapsed time around the shorthaul course. The 1020 is far from the fastest boat on the shorthaul track (highest PHRF is 0.745) but with a bit of luck and a few smarts could still be a challenger.

Initially we were going to go for the challenge of the Advance Trident Cup, but when the 1020 numbers swelled to 10 felt we probably should support the class (come on guys... grunt up next year and do the longer race!) so switched to racing Farr 1020's.

Next was prep... Hard Labour didn't need much done (just a new flare pack) so this mainly involved the catering arrangements and refreshments for the aftermatch festivities. As I do a few fishing trips with Tim catering has become a bigger challenge with a continual aim of "taking it to the next level". It's fair to say we have come a long way from the freeze dried meals of the Round New Zealand Race!

A spanner was almost put in the works when Tim had a knee issue a few weeks out and was hobbling around on crutches. An operation just over a week before the NZ Rigging 60 and a little fishing trip to see how mobile he could be lead to the discovery that copious amounts of rum made a dramatic improvement! I gave him the assurance that he could do most of the helming and so could take it easy and I would ensure adequate rum supplies on hand. Finally a call to "Hard the @#$% up!" may have been the decider!

On Race day when Tim turned up I was running a little behind... a major work assignment emailed at 4 min before the deadline on Friday, SSANZ Briefing, Catering, Coastguard info for the race, Start/Finish sheets for the committee etc etc had taken a toll. We got underway with Tim on the helm while I set up the boat and safety gear before finally making brekkie...

A quick look at the start lead us into a discussion with the race committee about too much bias to the boat end. When it was evident this wasn't going to change we devised a cunning plan...

Final call on headsail was made (go the big gear!) Sails up...oh bugger, better rerun the sheets as were setup for the No.2. then head for the start. Wind it up on to the wind pushing those pesky Young 88's up to the Committee boat end. Hold it high for a little after the start until we had safe clear air and then straight onto course leaving the 88's to fight each other sailing well above course like they are so good at doing!

So we were in the lead virtually from the start chasing the Shorthaul division in front (personal challenge to beat them on elapsed time). Strathspey and Rawhide looked the best of the 1020's behind on No.2's but another 1020 lower down had also elected to run the No.1. With the wind lighter than expected the No.1 paid dividends mainly in the lulls or chop. We slowly edged away with the other 1020 running a 1 moving up to second. Already we were having to weave through the traffic of the division in front.

With a two sail reach all the way to Gannet Rock it was pretty simple sailing except we had to work abit harder trimming to keep Hard Labour on her feet in the big puffs. The other 1020 running a No.1 went fairly low going up the side of Waiheke and ended up losing a few places.

A gybe around Gannet, big kite on for the flat off slide to Shearer's. I think the boats behind gained a few minutes back on us this leg as the breeze built from behind. Half way along the leg we put the gourmet super pizza in the oven and had a great feed shortly after (got to get the base crispy but don't dare burn it aye Tim!). Arriving at Shearer's in a group of 3 boats Tim did a nice job of slowing down and setting up to grab the inside while I raced around getting the kite off and all tidied up. We kept reasonably high initially where many boats fell away (good gains to us...but it is what 1020's do best). We seemed to suddenly catch right up to Pahi which was a big surprise. They were going very high and slow so based on the speed we caught them it was decided to go low and fast and sail through them. This was a mistake, as soon as we dropped down Pahi got their act sorted and we just got hurt. Headers as we approached Rakino finally meant we could use some tactics. Working the Motutapu side to keep out of tide by putting in extra tacks paid dividends with our lead over the next 1020 over doubling. After clearing Rakino passage it was a reach all the way to the finish. Too tight for an extra, but we had one ready anyway. Duty Free caught and passed us close to leeward so we took advantage to grab a tow from Issy Bay all the way to the finish on his wake while enjoying rum's and the smell of Pork Roast now cooking in the oven. Thanks Andrew (Duty Free) it was great to have the benefit of your extra waterline.
End results.... Fastest Shorthaul Boat on elapsed time (exc cruisers) 1st 1020 by 9min but only 3rd on handicap. I think we needed a more tactical race to beat our handicap!
By the time we were back to the dock, packed away, refreshed (more rum) the Roast was ready so we had an epic feed. By this time the Sunfast boys had docked so we joined them for festivities and somehow seemed to lose 2 bottles of rum...