Round North Island Race 2005 Hard Labour's Leg 4 report
07 Mar 2005
In my last report I mentioned something about how a hard driven 1020 being able to surprise. Well I was wrong. This leg didn't surprise, it shocked ! I would never have thought a 1020 could finish 3rd outright on line especially on the second longest leg.
Anyway we knew we needed a huge result this leg to try to win ORC overall from Hydoflow and Bare Essentials. Also wanted to finish on a high note, and also have a good battle with the Young 11's and Sliver again. As we had destroyed the small kite, our only option was the big gear....not that we needed excuses. This time we started our tactical moves early....
On the night before I made it my job to encourage as much drinking as possible while Steve slipped away for a early night. When one of the cups ran dry I slipped it away to Hard Labour to refill with a high octane rum and coke. Judging by the faces and sore heads the next morning, it looked as though phase one of the plan had worked well !
We got off to a good start under spinnaker just behind Sliver to be at the front of the fleet at the first mark. It helped when Hydroflow sailed into the exclusion zone and had to drop their gennaker and turn around. Prawnbroker split from the fleet to head north and picked up a nice breeze to surge in front but by nightfall the whole fleet was closely bunched and on the wind still trying to escape Hawkes Bay. As always the 1020 loves it on the wind and we managed to catch and pass Prawnbroker and extend away from ZZTop and Sliver. We were close to Young Nicholson once again, not yet knowing this battle would continue for the next 2-3 days ! Sure Thing, Paradigm, Young Nick, and us all rounded Portland Island in close company, however in the wee hours of the night we managed to slip away abit. It was a nervous time at the morning sched with noone in sight, but we felt confident. I was a bit dissapointed when it looked like we were a few miles behind but miles offshore from the rest. However a major wind change which put us back on the wind and not quite laying East Cape but suddenly meant that we were now almost directly to windward of the fleet by the distance we had been further offshore !!! By midday we saw Young Nicholson tacking out and about 3 miles behind. From the morning sched we knew they were leading the bunch inshore so that probably meant we were third on the water outright !!! It was a interesting day keeping tabs on Young Nick, They sailed faster but lower than the 1020 so every few hours we would see them tack out to get above our line and then fall below us over the next few hours. I think they tacked a dozen times more than us. As we approached East Cape the breeze freshened meaning we had to change to a no. 2, eventally putting a reef in as well. Our tight battle with Young Nich continued around East Cape tack for tack all the way. The sea was very confused with lots of banging and crashing, I was pleased to be on a Farr boat at this point, a fine entry means we were far more comfortable than say a Young 88 or Elliot. Steve was down below at one point and every wave I heard him yell "%@#$" he then came up on deck to tell me "Next time I say I'm going to sail around East @#%$ Cape....Tell me to get my head read and instead take my company car !" By morning we were around the Cape and reaching for Colville and back to No.1's and full main. The morning Sched had us in third with Surething not too far behind Young Nick. As we sailed across the bay of Plenty we started to get headed. Back on the wind again ! As the forecast was to go to the North we kept going as the breeze continually headed us. Abit further out to sea we saw a big cloud line so we kept going until we were well under it. The breeze under the cloud was about 14knots where as before we had only 8. We then tacked over and were headed only 10 deg below the course to Colville. However the evening sched showed we had done a number on the fleet with a good gap back to fourth. As we closed on the Mercury Islands we go headed and put a lot of tacks in to get to Square top Island. Young Nicholson had closed back in on us and we battled though the Colville channel before bearing away towards Rangitoto. We were determined to hold third to the finish and were very worried that Young Nich would get us as they were only a mile behind. As we closed on the Noises we popped the spinnaker up (big one as the small one was ruined going to Napier) We thought Young Nicholson will have to really try if they think they are going to beat us ! We held on with them slowly closing and on reaching the Rangi channel were joined by a camera boat just as we were about to gybe. That put some pressure on !!! However we did a geat job and never even collapsed the kite. However we failed to notice for a while the top batten on the main was inverted ! We used our local knowledge to catch more of the incoming tide than Young Nich and managed to hold them off until the finish. Just 6 min ahead ! Still find it hard to believe we got a third on line....Handicap results are not out yet, but you could say we are "quietly confident" The big question is by how much and how this will effect overall results.
So the final wrap... A great race, meet some great people. The 1020 did itself proud, beating Young 11's on 2 legs. It proved to be exceptional on the wind but better than expected on other angles too...
Will we do it again next time ?...... I've been around too long to rashly say no and then be proven wrong. So its a maybe. Would like to do it on a fast 50 footer and give Ronnie a run ! But I think we were lucky with the weather. Although heaps of light patches we never coped a real pounding.
A big Thanks to the SSANZ team for yet another great event. Will see you all again in the SIMRAD series