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Wild Oats

SSANZ Two Handed Division winners "Wild Oats"

Wild Oats

Wild Oats and crew

Coastal Classic SSANZ Two Handed Trophy

25 Oct 2007

This year the SSANZ Trophy for the first two handed boat on PHRF in the HSBC Coastal Classic was "Wild Oats". "Wild Oats" has been a regular competitor in SSANZ races so it's great to see them with the trophy. Well Done guys.

Wild Oat's race report follows below...


Coastal Classic on Wild Oats


Matt and I have sailed quite a bit together since we first met nearly 2 years ago.  This has mainly been on my Ross 930, Wild Oats, but also on other larger boats including Northern Rebel in the 2007 Onerahi to Vanuatu race.  Whilst there is a significant difference in age (like 24 years!) and sailing experience, we certainly get on well and respect each other?s skills.  We have competed in the SSANZ for the past 2 years and, after rough beginnings, are making great progress in terms of learning how to maximise the speed out of Wild Oats when short handed.  We?re probably further down the learning curve when it comes to racing tactics but if preparation and enthusiasm were all that counted, we?d win everything!


So several months ago, we decided to do the Coastal two-handed.  The week prior to the start was quite hectic with a rig check, replacement of some sheets, an engine service and a complete re-check of all safety gear.  Mid week racing on the Wednesday before the start of the Coastal meant that the loading of the Cat 3 gear couldn?t occur until the Thursday and of course the briefing had to be attended.  It was quite breezy on that Wednesday and our objective was to do well but just as importantly (if not more so!) to save all of the gear for the Coastal.  Murphy?s Law being what it is, we tore our reaching kite after not having torn a sail for ages!!!  Bugger!  Fortunately Doyles found time on Thursday to repair it amongst numerous other pre Coastal jobs that they had on the go.  Thanks Phizzle!  With the repair came the advice that the sail is old and should be retired!


Fortunately my wife, Jenni, agreed to take the car to Opua with all of our non racing gear which meant that the boat could be kept light and still carry all of the sails that we might need in any part of the race.  Ross 930?s are not very big inside and weight should be avoided wherever possible!


The start of the race was reasonably uneventful for us involving a two sail reach until we could conservatively pop the larger of our kites in the light southerly.  We started in good company and headed off towards Rangi Light to reduce the effect of the incoming tide.  Once on this angle it seemed logical to keep going and head out to sea until we met the impending sou?easter.  Pretty logical really. 


Progress was slow as we headed out to sea outside Tiri heading NE.  We saw some boats gibing back to the west to go through the Tiri Passage but couldn?t see the sense in that so we hung onto our course.  Once abeam of Flat Rock though, we started to have doubts about our easterly strategy and decided to head inland.  15 minutes on a port gybe and we had doubts about that decision too, so headed back to sea.  We didn?t really know which way we wanted to go and tested our relationship with some debate about the matter.  Probably the loser out of that situation was Hot Property who came at us on a port gybe thinking that we would give way.  In most other circumstances on a long race like that we may have, but not when frustration was starting to build up as it was. Sorry about that HP, but you did some nice sailing with your pole on the leeward side and we couldn?t quite hear all that you were saying to us! 


It wasn?t too much longer though before we could see that the boats going along the eastern side of Kawau Island were doing well, so we headed over that way as quickly as we could.  When we got there we realised that we had lost a significant amount of ground against the boats that stayed in the west.  We continued on to almost Maori Rock and got some nice lifts thanks to tide and wind shift.  We did the same at Omaha Bay and started making up some valuable ground. 


Everything was pretty orderly until we got to within a couple of miles of Sail Rock and the wind freshened so that we had to drop the kite and to sail reach across Bream Bay.  This was a pretty exhilarating reach even without a kite as we stormed along at 11 to 13 knots for much of the time.  Down to leeward of us at Flat Rock were Max Headroom and Azure carrying reaching kites (as 1020?s can do in any breeze!).  They were having a spectacular sail but were making very little ground on us and were falling off to leeward.  Having sailed for quite some time in Whangarei, I knew that the sea and wind conditions at Whangarei Heads would be challenging but we headed that way to build height for our next kite hoist.


When we got to the Heads the sea was quite lumpy and we got ourselves mentally prepared for a new hoist knowing that with only two people on board and no rail bait it was going to be a marginal call in terms of staying upright as well as going as fast to Cape Brett as we could.  The beer went down well and Matt went through the hoist procedure, which involved more input from me than I could obviously handle as well as trying to steer in tricky conditions.  The result was a spectacular knockdown with the headsail still up, the kite up and the boat on its side not at all happy with the situation.  This took quite some time to clean up and it took another Heiny to settle the nerves as we headed to Ocean Beach for some height (and probably shelter!).


It wasn?t long afterwards though, that we had the small kite flying and we were out of there!  Adrenalin was racing around my bloodstream as we absorbed the bullets and rode down waves.  This was real Ross 930 conditions and for the next while we watched numerous white stern lights turn red or green depending on which side of them we passed them on.  Once we felt that we had control, it was fun ? great fun!


We approached Cape Brett with a considerable amount of respect for wind shadows that might occur under the mountains to the south of the corner.  So we hung out wide and went through the passage under headsail for the sake of agility.  We were approx 50 metres to leeward of Drop Dead Fred going around the cape but couldn?t hang on to them on the reach/lay to Tapeka Point.  At times it got lighter and we debated putting up the #1, which is a brand new Doyles full sized overlapper.  It?s a great sail in the right conditions and we weren?t convinced that the cost of getting it up would be repaid in boat speed.  It turns out that we were wrong because we were significantly underpowered as we tacked around Tapeka and up to the finish line.


Many boats that passed the cape behind us made up ground on us as we completed our final tacks but we still managed to finish at 0414hrs.  Many boats behind us should not have been there and we will always wonder if we could have hung on to Drop Dead Fred if we had changed headsail ? we think we could have made up those 10 minutes, but that?s yacht racing and all in all we are very happy with the result.  1st two-hander into Russell, 1st on handicap for the two-handers and a creditable 4th on handicap in Div 4.


Good results necessitate ample celebrations and we did that part well ? but that?s another story to be told on another day!  Will we do the Coastal two-handed again next year? ? you bet!


Peter Marsh and Matt Krogstad

Wild Oats