Race 1 2005 SSANZ SIMRAD Series
10 Jul 2005
The "Hard Labour" Experience...
This year was always going to be tougher, after last years series and the RNI race we could only go downhill. When I saw the entry list and saw we had 8 Farr 1020's plus at least another 8 potentially faster boats I was worried and thought for a moment I should have kept my mouth shut instead of winding everyone up !!! But too late for that now, only option left was to go out and give it heaps...couldn't afford a bad race !
The forecast looked promising for us with plenty of breeze (gusting 35) from the southwest, this would give a run down to passage rock then a beat back to Motuhie and another beat from Rakino passage to the finish, great for a 1020 and not so good for the lightweight flyers. I figured the biggest threats would be Rebel Rouser, Sliver, Namu, Hornblower and the other 1020?s.
However motoring to the start it appeared the forecast was wrong, we only had 10 knots with gusts to 15. We got a good start right by 8 bouy and were immediately dualing with Ambience with Share Delight not far behind. We missed our opportunity to gybe and cross Ambience when they surfed up on a gust limiting our options. Rebel Rouser had a huge masthead spinnaker and they joined the tussle at Bean Rock. Rebel Rouser hit the lead with Ambience behind then us. We were nearing Browns Island when suddenly the forecast wind arrived with a vengence. It was a case of hold on tight and try to keep control. Many boats wiped out, a few lost rigs, many destroyed spinnakers. We managed to thread our way through the carnage while on the edge of control. The breeze settled down after that and the fleet headed towards Passage Rock on a reach. The lightweight flyers started to show their pace and move up the fleet. The poor 1020 was to heavy to really get up and boogie but we knew our time would come on the upwind leg. My biggest concern was Rebel Rouser who was extending away from us and could be a quick boat upwind too !
Abit over half way to Passage Rock we picked up some weed, the boat became a real handful as it would no longer accelerate but instead loaded up and dug it's bow in. We suddenly started to lose ground on Ambience and Prime Suspect caught and passed us. I was worried as Scotty was onboard and I had given him a hard time in the lead up. Prime Suspect was the last boat I wanted to beat us ! I tried to clear the weed but had no chance while travelling at 10 knots. We figured we had to live with it until Passage Rock when we could back up after dropping the Spinnaker.
On the final few miles into Passage Rock the wind kicked back in. This caught out Prime Suspect who broached and while the kite flogged the sheet came unclipped compounding the problems. Rebel Rouser shredded their big kite and many of the lightweight flyers had issues getting their kites down. Grunt Machine did very well to round Passage Rock in first place with a big lead. Grunty Chicken, was also looking good with Ambience, Hysteria, Elle Phunk in a tight battle with us and Rebel Rouser close together just behind. We did a tack/backup to clear the weed and then set off chasing down the leaders.
On the wind we were going well, definitely the fastest boat. One by one we picked the other boats off until just Ambience was ahead. Ambience had put a reef in and when we approached Motuhie the wind increased again enabling them to extend a little again. However by Motuhie Green bouy we were right on their transom. Rebel Rouser was still dangerously close behind with Sliver also working their way up the fleet along with Namu. At Motuhie Green it was obvious it was all out war for the lead as both boats set their small spinnakers in marginal conditions. We both took off at a great rate of knots extending away from the chasing pack behind which decided to take the safe option ! Ambience flinched first and dropped the kite after a round up. We extended a little before Steve saw a cloud line and said lets drop the kite. I looked at the water and couldn't see any more breeze so suggested lets extend some more first. I then looked again to see a white rain line approaching with a huge gust blowing the sea flat, too late to drop now ! next thing I knew we were on our side. We managed to get rid of the spinnaker pretty quickly and retained the lead. As we went through Rakino passage it looked like it was going to be pretty rugged so we put a reef in to match Ambience's sail plan. It was then a case of covering all the way to the finish and protecting the left side of the track. Rebel Rouser managed to slip into second place so we shook the reef out and kept in front to the finish. It was a most relieved crew when we heard the gun. Ambience was only a few minutes behind and thoroughly deserved their PHRF 1020 class win pushing us hard all the way. IORANGI also had a great race and were only a few minutes behind. It was great to see a immaculately prepared classic perform so well.
Now we are looking forward to the next race where the competition should get even tougher now that everyone has had a warm up !