2008 RNI Review
16 Mar 2008
Well it's been nearly a week now and like a lot of the competitors I'm still in recovery mode ! But now that all the boats have finished, appropriate time penalties imposed and the results look set to be finalised it is time to review the race.
The RNI (Round North Island) race has always been something special (make sure you read Letters from competitors http://www.ssanz.co.nz/news.html?id=123) . It was originally set up by the late Sir Peter Blake and run by the Devonport Yacht Club before going into remission and later being reinvented by SSANZ. A quick look at the past trophy winners reads like a who's who of NZ yachting... But to focus solely on the racing misses most of what the race is all about. For many the race is the adventure of their lives but one that they can take part in with a regular boat. Just to complete the race is a great achievement in itself. The New Zealand coastline can be a very rugged and inhospitable place, to travel over 1200miles with only 2 crew while staying close to the coast and rounding notorious weather blackspots (like North Cape, Westcoast, Cook Strait, Cape Palister, Wairarapa Coast, East Cape and Cape Colville) is a great challenge. The other great thing is with only two people on each boat and 3 stopovers (plus a party after the finish) everyone gets to know their fellow competitors. Unlike virtually any other event everyone helps out their fellow competitors with any repairs needed to ensure they complete the race. In this race rival sailmakers worked together right through the night just to ensure everyone could make it to the restart.
The 2008 race got away after a delayed start due to a terrible forecast in a nice breeze. However this soon died away only to come in from another direction and then repeat the cycle. Everytime the big boats could get away they ran out of breeze and got caught up again. Understandably on handicap it was a smallboat benefit. Mangonui welcomed the fleet for the first stopover and as always impressed with their hospitality (as well as world famous fish'n'chips on the wharf)
Leg 2 to Wellington started well with the fleet making good time to round the top of the North Island. This is where we saw the navigators earn their money. Lots of pre race predictions favoured heading well out to sea to catch the first of the new breeze, however Ran Tan II hugged the coast. The wild west coast failed to live up to it's name and the fleeted drifted along for a few days. When closing together Andar was right by Ran Tan II would suggest the offshore course was definitely favoured but once again boats further back in the fleet seemed to experience better conditions. On this leg Nevenka caused some concern by missing radio scheds. Maritime Radio and the rescue centre did a fantastic job and a search by an Orion soon found them safe and well. Waka really scorched for the second half of the leg to win overall on PHRF.
Leg 3 saw the fleet start with plenty of wind and bash their way to Cape Palister. Unfortunately the wind then shifted so they were only just cracked sheets to Napier. This leg was definitely a big boat leg and Ran Tan II got to stretch her legs and blast away to win on handicap as well as line. It was at this stage of the race that Sunstone's consistent performance moved her to first overall on handicap for the race to date.
Napier is often a favourite port and with an extra day those crews on top of their boat maintenance get a chance to take in the sights. For some reason the majority tend to go on a wine tour... In Napier the boats all get rafted side by side backed up to the pier right outside the yachtclub. The atmosphere is fantastic and I'm sure a lot of crews are reluctant to leave.
The final leg got away in very light air eventually filling in so it would be directly on the nose to East Cape. This leg was particularly tricky with a few park ups...particularly just after rounding East Cape. This was interspaced with some quite breezy moments with many of the fleet experiencing over 30 knots of wind. Waka in particular found these conditions particularly wet and uncomfortable.
The first finishers were in the wee hours of Monday morning and the majority by 10pm that night. After parking their boats competitors made there way to "Trinidad" David Cooke's (race director) launch for a post race celebration. There were obviously quite a few tired yachties as 2-3 days later many of the fleet looked like they had been abandoned in their berths with sails still to be stored and ropes everywhere !
Overall results have Ran Tan II winning on line
Sunstone winning on PHRF and IRC
Danaide winning on ORC
Prizegiving will be on Saturday 5th April
Please have a good look around the SSANZ site for post race reports photos (just added a heap more) etc. Waka has even posted a video on uTube
Links... Letters from competitors http://www.ssanz.co.nz/news.html?id=123
Waka video http://www.ssanz.co.nz/news.html?id=121
Sunstone reports http://www.ssanz.co.nz/news.html?id=124