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Expressway's B&G Simrad 60 report

07 Aug 2007

Average start up near the tower end of the line but held on starboard a lot longer than we wanted by Mojo as we could not tack and clear them.  Eventually managed to pull ahead enough to tack and cross their bow but by now our competition Pretty Woman, Second Nature, Valium, Prawnbroker and Zen had a handy lead.  Settled down to our work tacking up the bays keeping as far left as possible keeping out of the tide and waiting for the forecast left-hand shift.  Managed to cross Second Nature off Takapuna but they crossed us again when they came back out.  Pretty Woman holding station about 200 metres ahead and 100 metres to leeward.  We stuck with our plan of tacking close up the bays whilst most of the others especially Pretty Woman and Second Nature elected to head out to sea.

As the boats converged at the top of Whangaparaoa it was clear that we had made a huge gain.  First to come back at us was Valium who crossed about 100 metres behind us and tacked just above our line.  Then the Ross 40 Marshall Law the same distance behind.  Perchanse reappeared from some where to be about 200 metres ahead.  As we past thru Tiri Passage we watched the to big Elliott Cruisers rounding Navy Buoy (one ahead of us and one behind).

Clearing Tiri we had Valium, Zen, Marshall Law and Whitebait down to leeward with Whitebait in front.  Confusion and concern over where Pretty Woman was reined until after the finish when we discovered she had retired before Tiri.  The board across to Motuora was not good for us with the wind dropping leaving us under powered with the #3 up.  Unfortunately the #3 was in the starboard track making a change difficult so we elected to live with it until we tacked to round Motuora .  Whitebait crossed our bow about 50 metres in front meanwhile Valium had changed up and where coming back at us very quickly.  We tacked to lay Motuora and started our sail change but it was to late to prevent Valium slipping through to leeward.  When we finally got our #3 that has a habit of jamming in the track down and settled into the reach to Flat Rock the standings from our vantage point appeared to be Perchanse about 10 minutes ahead then Whitebait with Valium close behind then ourselves followed about 100 metres back by Zen.  Waka who had held their own very well on the long beat from town along with Zen and Second Nature who was now almost to far back to see all elected to try gennakers on this leg but were unable to hold the required course as the wind went forward across the bottom of Kawau.  We had an altercation with a very large barge heading north who did not seem to understand that power gives way to sail until he was about to hit us.  Which resulted in him doing a rather panic stricken 360 when he was only about two boat lengths from attempting to cross our bow (which he had no hope of doing).  Why he could not have altered course or throttled back 5 minutes earlier I don't understand.

At Flat Rock the order remained the same with Perchanse around first followed by Whitebait with Valium in close attendance then Expressway followed by Zen now a little further back having lost ground with their attempt at a Gennaker on the reach.  Not sure where Waka was at this point but once their Gennaker came up for the run we soon found out as they flew past sailing a very nice angle.  Whitebait and Second Nature also elected to use gennakers on this flat run with Second Nature last seen heading for the top of Coromandel at great speed and Whitebait crossing our bow several times but not making any real gains.  Zen sailed a slightly hotter angle than Valium and ourselves gybing to reach Gannet Rock resulting in a small loss.

At Gannett the order was Waka (having sailed around everyone), Perchanse, White Bait and Valium close together then Expressway about 10 minutes back followed by Prawnbroker who had made some good gains on the run passing Zen.

At this point (OK I'll take the blame) I was silly enough to comment despite the forecast (30 gusting 50 knots this evening), 47 knots on nowcasting at Manukau Heads and large black clouds looming that it had been a reasonably easy race "so far".  Well that was about to change.  With the rain came a lot more wind, not sure how much but I would be surprised if some of the gusts were not in the high 30's or low 40's.  In went the reef (5 mins to late as usual) with much commotion and flapping of kevlar and we settled down to see if we could actually keep the boat pointed in the right direction.  Once we got far enough along Waiheke to be in the lee of Rakino things seemed a little easier.  Can't say I enjoyed sailing the lee shore in those conditions.  Some brave sailing on Waka (those boys have no fear of rocks what so ever) saw them still leading entering the Motuihe passage.  Lesson 101 watch out for the gusts coming down off Motutapu just when you need to bear off a bit to clear Emu point (not a good time for a round up trust me).

At Emu point the order remained unchanged but Waka was under serious threat from Perchanse now in her element ( Hanse 43 vs Thompson 8.5 hard on the wind, not fair really).  Perchanse slips by to finish 7 minutes in front.  We did our first tack of the leg a short 1-2 minute dig to clear Bean Rock making some gains on Valium having sailed a bit higher since Emu Point.

Whitebait (White 40) also made gains on the way home to finish next 6 minutes behind Waka followed by Valium another 5 minutes back, 6 minutes to Expressway with Prawnbroker 10 minutes behind.  Zen faded a little to finish 17 minutes behind Expressway (feel free to correct me here Steve but I get the feeling that the further back you where when the wind came in the worse off you were).  Not sure the trailing boats would have even made the corner of Waiheke with out tacking and may have had to put in a lot bigger board to clear Bean Rock.

And excellent race all round with many thanks to Steve, Dougal, Cameron, Dave and the rest of the SSANZ crew.  Not so good to hear that you have given up drinking rum Steve :).  Finish duties will never be the same again (shame you can't get pizza delivered to the finish boat).