Round North Island Race 2005 Hard Labour's Leg 3 report
01 Mar 2005
Finally we get some breeze...
Leg 3 saw us start an hour earlier than originally scheduled so we could try to beat the approaching front to Cape Palister. With the forecast of gusting 45 knots from the south the fleet were very cautious at the start with most boats reefed and on small headsails despite a total lack of wind. Sliver stole the start and got away with the rest of the fleet fighting each other. We got away ok but then got caught up in the windshadow of Bare Essentials and Paradigm which cost us heavily. However with some good tactics out of the harbour we got back to around 6th place. After we cleared Wellington Harbour we all expected the wind to kick in...but no. After struggling with small sails most of the fleet changed up to find within 15 min the breeze was building so they were changing down again !!! It was pretty much on the wind to Cape Pallister where we bore away and changed to the jib top. As we travelled up the coast the breeze swung aft as it built further. We debated long and hard about using the small kite, no one else had hoisted one (plus it was now dark so they wouldn't know what we were up to), but someones got to be the first ! Anyway we put it up and started to mow down the bigger boats. Averaging 10 knots with bursts to 14 this was going to be a quick leg. The breeze varied between 23 and 33 knots and swung further aft. After blasting along for a few hours I commented to Steve that maybe the forecast was a bit exaggerated as we should have seen 40+ knots by now..... Famous last words ! Within 5 min we had a gust of 40 knots+ (+ is because after seeing 40 I couldn't look at the instruments anymore as we had a bit on ! Anyway we survived that one but a few minutes later a bigger one just slammed us. We did a huge broach and the kite proceeded to wrap around the forestay and shred itself. The next 40 min was spent trying to unwrap the kite so we could get a headsail up. What a mission. Anyway finally all sorted without losing much ground (still hitting 13's with just the main up) We were not far behind the Young 11's which were running No.3's However if we were to try to play with bigger faster boats then we needed BALLS.... So stuff the No.2 or 3....up goes the J.T (Jibtop) which we poled out. It was hard to control and required a workout for the arms....but most importantly it was faster than the boats ahead. We gradually caught and passed the Young 11's and were pleased at the morning sched to only be 8 miles behind Sure Thing. However we made a mistake in judging the gybe angle into Cape Kidnappers (also postponed the gybe till after a gust went though) the breeze swinging a little compounded the mistake and let both Young 11's back in front. We chased ZZ Top right to the finish but it wasn't to be. However once again a hard driven 1020 showed it can surprise even in conditions it's not suited to. Finally we got a leg win on ORC and pull back 3hours on overall corrected time from Hydroflow to make it a great contest for the final leg.