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Sunstone's Leg 1 report

25 Feb 2008

Hi Cameron,

Well, it was a little tedious in the middle, but the beginning and end were pretty nice sailing.

More by luck than judgement, we had a pretty good start, despite being forced to bear away for the port tacked Bushido. 10 tons of varnish would have made some nasty scratches on that new paint job. Once beyond Rangitoto the boat got into its stride and we made good time until not far from Rodney, staying well in with the second half of the fleet.

With the easing breeze we started to lose out some and tried a shy kite for a while with only marginal success until we peeled from the .75 to the .5, which went better. We were surprised to see so few spins with lots of crews opting to stay with headsails even when the wind was quite far aft. By 1930 the wind was so light even the .5 wouldn't fly and we went to genoa - and like everyone else flopped around for the next 4 hours. When the zephyrs headed us we went west to join a pack inshore as Windfinder said that the SWly would fill along a line from the WSW. It was right and got the time correct to within half an hour. A little breeze came in at about 0030 or 0045 and we got going under plain sail with the breeze building intermittently to about 12 knots.

We had been at the back of the inshore pack near Bream Tail, but by Tutukaka some of the stern lights were getting brighter. At dawn we were off Whangamumu with the .75 up and alongside Insight, Oracle, Expressway and not too far behind Danaide and Escapeology, with other bigger boats in sight ahead.

Like everyone except Insight, we went outside at Brett and picked up more breeze once past, close reaching, no longer with the spin. This lasted all the way to the top of the Cavallis where we had a few heart-stopping moments shooting the passage with backed genoa. It was here that Insight, which had been right next to us made her break, getting a clear half-mile ahead, while Oracle, which had also been right with us got stuck as did Carenza, which had caught us all.

With wind heading, we hardened up and once through the flat patch off Flat Is. (is it all those trees?) the breeze picked up and we were away in Sunstone's favourite weather. This allowed us to make up some ground on Insight until the breeze lifted and she started using her close reaching speed again. At Berghan Point the wind headed us as everyone else, but we seemed to be able to hold higher in perhaps slightly less foul tide. Both we and Insight tacked inshore much earlier than many boats ahead and came close to weathering the final point, but need another pair of tacks before the fast reach to the finish.

Though we closed the gap to only about a minute and half, Erin and Jody on Insight beat us cleanly for a well deserved 1st overall on PHRF. It was a small boat leg, as the 4 hours down-time for the whole fleet could never be overcome by the big boats.

We were chuffed with our 2nd in PHRF and with our 1st in IRC - but this was only a sprint and there is a long, long way to go.

Thanks for all your hard labour on the website!

All the best,

Tom & Vicky jackson, Sunstone