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Hard Labour's Evolution Sails 100 report

08 Aug 2016

Hard Labour's race prep was a bit more comprehensive for the Evolution Sails 100, Race 2 of the Safety at Sea Triple Series.

First I sent mum off to Cuba to bring back some fine rum! 

Secondly the Team Surreal Round New Zealand Race crew were bit rusty after their retirement back in 2012 so I figured time on the water was paramount. A cunning plan was devised... a week off fishing and diving at Great Barrier getting back in touch with nature and the elements (plus slaying a plentiful supply of seafood for the race) getting back just in time for the race. This would also allow time for some comprehensive rum tasting and acclimatisation/conditioning of the liver. A bribe of a crayfish and fresh fish saw our shore manager (and boat owner) ensure the hull was cleaned the day before.

Rum tasting...

The plan came together well... the crew were on fire with Cam slaying the Snapper and Tim killing the crays! as well as making a selection on what rum's would be required!

So race day... we get out reasonably early and find the race committee has set another heavily biased line (except this time to the opposite end) and think about our options. Obviously need to start at the pin but need to be on port ASAP. Can we lay the line on starboard? If we do will we get trapped? are we better starting on port going fast and maybe dip a few boats? At least we have two starts prior to ours we can watch first.

Long haul start was a disappointment... the fleet was miles away when the gun went. Only the dark blue E1050 was anywhere near, Sunfast 3600 racing looking pretty average and a yellow Stewart 34 (not mentioning names but I figure you can work it out) getting in the way even though it wasn't yet their turn to start. "Don't copy Josh" said Tim.

For our start we elected to start on port a little down from the pin. We had 2 88's above us and L'Avanti below and a fraction further back. With clear air and pace we blasted into the lead driving over the bow of L'Avanti. It was slightly cracked sheets to Rangi light but as we approached got headed and had to put in a tack. Strathspey didn't tack and went much closer to the bricks then we were prepared to and made a big gain to get right up beside us rounding the lighthouse.

After rounding Rangi light and bearing away to the Haystack we switched to an outboard sheet which made gains on Strathspey. As the breeze clicked further aft we popped the kite to extend further. At this point a rain cloud went behind us and we were lucky to be on the edge with most wind the boats behind were starting to wallow while we powered away with Sailor Moon doing well too. Tim looked back and saw a big black cloud over the fleet and weird stuff going on. Boats facing all directions some with no wind and others with plenty. "It's going to get funky soon!" We discussed the plan if we got caught and kept a close watch while continuing to extend away in a completely different breeze. Eventually it got to us too. The wind died then shifted aft. I then saw it flick around so got Tim to helm while I gybed the pole and got the kite around the bow before the breeze set in and we were off again. Now 10 degrees low of course and opposite gybe! Looking back we were the only boat still under spinnaker and extending away!

What a shift... the next leg instead of being upwind to Shearers would now be downwind and the leg to Gannet would be a two sail reach!

We carried the spinnaker until abeam of the northern end of Rakino then switched to two sailing in on a hot angle to the Haystack, hoisting the spinnaker again and putting in a quick gybe to head for Shearers. Initially it was quite light around the Haystack and very choppy so we had to sail well above course to keep the boat powered up but as we got away from the Noises the breeze built and seaway settled and we got onto course for Shearers. Looking back was a great sight!

A early drop for a tidy rounding of Shearers and off to Gannet outboard sheeted. This was going to be a quick race! We still had the No.1 on which was a handful in the bigger puffs (saw up to 23 knots) with the cold dense air making it equivalent to a fair bit more in the summer! But at times the breeze dropped down to 10-12 knots at which point we made bigger gains. A gourmet lunch, radio sched, round Gannet and tack over to Rakino for a slightly tighter reach on the other tack.

It was pretty cold so to help warm Tim up I suggested a Rum... "Which one?" "doing ok... so it will be the good stuff!" "About Time!" So two generous rum's straight on the rocks, stereo cranked into life and Happy Hour declared. 

From Rakino it was a beat back to Motuihe channel then cracked sheets to Bean Rock and another rum for the finish.

Results 1st 1020 on Line by 12min30sec but only 2nd on Handicap (I think the handicapper might need either rum or crayfish as he doesn't seem to like us much!)

Now I just need to work on a plan for the last race...

p.s We felt sorry for Josh and Damon on the Sunfast 3600 Racing as we were back at the dock eating and drinking while they were still over by Coromandel and it was starting to get dark and really cold... So figured we better leave some food for them when they get in...