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Hard Labour's 2016 Baltic 50 Report

04 Sep 2016

The forecast was a concern for us... We were leading the series by 1 point on handicap over L'Avanti and Gambier but still needed to beat both on handicap in the final race as we would lose in the event of a countback... Anyway first I better apologise to the handicapper, I don't know what we have done to offend or upset you so much (our handicap is brutal for a one design division) and your welcome to join us for a drink anytime to put things right!

Back to the weather... To try and sail to our handicap it needs to be marginal, tricky and tactical. Top ends of sail ranges, marginal spinnaker angles all treat us well. But the forecast was looking like an easy sail... all Gambier aor L'Avanti would need to do is keep in touch and the win was theirs!

Saturday morning Tim fronted up looking the worse for wear. A two day fishing trip to acclimatize the liver so he was ready for the Issy Bay raft up had gone bad and he had overdone it and peaked too soon...and I had wasn't in perfect form myself (had a couple while conducting "sound check" with the party speakers)...

So a good breakfast while motoring to the start. Everyone heard the SunFast boy's before they saw them... yep they're fired up ready to party after the race! Check the startline... what! no massive bias Jon???

We were the 3rd start, only 1020 anywhere near the line (thanks guys for giving us a good jump at the start in every race, makes life a bit easier!) In the light 7-8knots flat running the Young 88's having a better power to weight ratio started to edge away but after gybing around Browns Island the breeze built enough to give us some wheels and we started to haul them back.

L'Avanti had a good run to catch right up to us by the bottom end. War Machine was now the only 88 ahead. With a tight kite ride to Kauri Point we edged away from L'Avanti (we go better when on the edge) and eventually past War Machine.

We decided on the beat back up the outside of Waiheke that we would work the left figuring we would pick up a few good shifts off the shore. However on rounding Thumb Point the breeze went soft and we thought the pressure looked better offshore so we headed out to cross L'Avanti. BIG MISTAKE! What we thought was pressure was a severe chop which killed speed and pointing ability. By the time we bit the bullet and went back left L'Avanti had made big gains and was virtually bow to bow! Ouch. As we approached L'Avanti tacked on our lee bow so we had to work really hard on our high mode as we wanted to get left. This was the start of a good duel up the side of Waiheke. L'Avanti was quick but we could get a fraction more height which seemed to pay off. Once clear in front again we kept a cover and grew our lead using the shifts to our advantage. This was a shock to the system! Normally we would be feasting on a gourmet lunch and into the rum's by now but the b@#$%'s were forcing us to work...

Luckily when we saw a shift to the left and tacked L'Avanti decided to split and head offshore. Suddenly the pressure eased and we made some massive gains. L'Avanti had sucked a kumara and even let Rawhide past... but would we be far enough in front?

Next challenge was to see if we could catch a certain Ross 8m uphead (crewed by a SSANZ committee member) we were hauling into them but the racetrack would prove to short. I'm sure Scotty was worried as he would have got a hell ribbing if had got past...

Next was the raft up, rum frenzy and roast... A great way to end the series.

In the end we finished 1st line and 3rd on corrected time (19 sec behind L'Avanti)
So overall 1st on Line for the Series. 1st equal on handicap but end up second on countback. If only we were 15 sec faster in the last race...