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Waka's Leg 1 report

25 Feb 2008

Finally after a 20hr postponement due to 50kt winds, the RNI race started at 10am Sunday.

Forecast was still 30 gusting 40 from the NW but most of it had blown over during the night and we were left with a large sloppy sea and 15-20 kts of slowly fading breeze.

We happened to run over a HUGE chunk of weed before the start which almost stopped the boat dead in the water. To get this off we had to reverse the boat under sail, this caused us to be late to the start and have to pick our way thru the fleet heading out of Auckland harbor.

Finally we cleared rangi light and were out into open water and clear air.

Expressway and whitebait were alongside us and gaining slowly but second nature showed us all how effective the new keel was by sailing off to the horizon.

After clearing Kawau we were just behind expressway and whitebait in a very sloppy sea with the breeze dying and coming on the beam. We were the first to hoist a Jibtop and made significant gains until the wind completely shutdown at about cape Rodney (35nm in the race).

We watched as the whole fleet sailed right up to us, very frustrating!

We sat there for a good 3 hrs with no wind until a very light southerly filled in and we headed towards the hen and chicks with the new Northsails Running kite up  doing 5-6kts. Just as we were thinking this wasn?t so bad and were taking time out of the leading pack, the wind completely died again.

We sat there for 3-4 hrs going nowhere as the sun went down. Freeze dried Spag bowl for dinner as we sat and waited for the forecast SW wind.

We had already decided that we wanted to be the most offshore boat to hopefully gain from the stronger wind away from the lee of the land, although we knew this could mean that we get the wind last we were also hoping for a better angle into cape brett where the wind always swings aft.

Sure enough by 11pm we were into 10kts with the MH reaching gennaker up. We went right outside the hen and chicks and cut just inside the poor nights islands before coming up to cape brett with the fractional gennaker doing 8-11kts in about 15kts of wind.

By day break we were just rounding cape brett with no boats in sight ahead and a whole bunch running slowly down the coast close to shore in a light and aft breeze.

We were not sure of our exact position in the fleet but knew that we had done OK when we realized the closest boats were 2 50fters! The night of trimming and hiking hard had payed off, Neither of us had gone below for sleep the entire night!

Ran tan (canting Elliot 50), akatea(cookson 12m), bushido(elliot 53) and andar(open 50) were still ahead and out of sight.

We ended up jibtop reaching in 12kts across the bay of islands and through in between the cavalla islands with ?lassez faire? and ?bird on a wing? slowly sneaking past us with 50ft of waterline versus 28!

We could see the main competition of the white 40 ?white bait? and the Elliot 1050 ?second nature? right behind us and gaining fast as we changed to the #2 headsail and sheeted hard on the wind.

We knew that we had to give a lot of time to these 2 boats and with 10nm of upwind to go we were going to be hard pressed to beat them over the line and had completely given up on a handicap result. We were going to have to hike hard and sail sharp to keep our lead intact!

The 42ft ?time to burn? slowly cruised past us about 5nm from the finish and went on to beat us by 10-15minutes.

Surprisingly we managed to hold off the other 2 and went on to get gun and 3rd on PHRF in our division.

A good result for us in conditions that were far from ideal for the ?giant killer?.  Some of the real ?giants? have been telling us of the roasts and hot showers they are enjoying on their way around the course - we are currently enjoying a rum in a hotel.  Apologies in advance if the generator we left running on the Waka hasn?t run out of gas by the time the roasts are ready!  Batteries must be fed.


Finally another big thanks to North Sails, Leading Edge Boat Builders, Gill and EAS who have helped keep us moving, afloat, dry and energetic respectively.