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Auckland to Tauranga 2 Handed Division winner "Wishbone" reports
30 Apr 2008
Lessons Learnt from Auckland to Tauranga Race 2008
Trish Lewis and Phil Scott
Rather than a blow by blow account of the race, we thought readers may find the following notes more useful, especially those aspiring to longer distance races such as Coastal Classic.
· Preparation before the race and putting in plenty of practice are key, the fact that we had done several Simrad series and a lot of other races, particularly Auckland to Onerahi, stood us in good stead
· Not being afraid to ask for advice before the race is valuable, it is suprising how useful little tips from unexpected sources can be
· In a mixed fleet race with a lot of bigger boats it really paid off to start in the middle of the line, well away from all the yelling and screaming at the pin, hitting the line at speed and in clear air (the importance of clear air had been stressed by Phil Prouse in many Reactor races in the past)
· Good navigation notes are invaluable and you need to have faith in your own judgement, just because the fleet ahead are not sailing the proper course doesn't mean you should follow them
· Reactors go well in once out of the harbour and away from the short choppy water which tends to stop them dead in the light
· When a pod of dolphins comes to play on the bow it is good to remember that the new proposed harbour regulations haven't come in yet so we don't need to try and head away from them or stop the boat (which would have disappointed them as they were having a great time!)
· Constantly watching what wind direction other boats have is vital in light airs, especially if there is a sou'westerly to the north which can take you straight up to Channel Island with the spinnaker up while the big boats closer in shore are tacking up in a nor'easterly
· Just because all the boats ahead have gone a long way north of Channel Island doesn't mean you have to follow, much better to nip close round the island and pop out ahead of them all
· When tacking down the east coast of Coromandel in the dark, it is good to call Starboard on a Chico 42 if the Navy boys aren't paying full attention
· Even at night it is important to constantly check the wind shifts (the new light on the windex was invaluable) and the course on the chart plotter vs the direct course to the next way point, and tack when needed to keep the best course
· It is useful to have a dim torch to use when checking charts at night
· Concentration at night was maintained with the 2 hour shift system and minimised wandering off course (other boats were spotted sailing well off the wind and off course at times, and we suspect the crew of one of the bigger 2 handed boats suffered from their decision to both stay up all night when the race turned out to be much longer than expected)
· A full moon on a clear night is always a bonus
· The navigation plan is a good starting point but flexibility is needed as wind conditions change, such as heading out to the Aldermans rather than passing close to Slipper Island
· When there is no wind small boats drift just as fast as big ones!
· When there is almost no wind, vigilance pays off, getting the best from every little puff off wind
· A good food and hydration plan help, it is easy to get dehydrated otherwise, with hindsight a bag in the cockpit for water bottles would be useful
· Carry extra rations to cover for races taking a lot longer than expected!
· Never give up, even when you are watching the other boats give up and head for home, because you never know when a good northerly may come your way
· Keep watching what is happening and be ready to whip the spinnaker up as soon as the wind direction is seen to swing to the north
· Have the courage to keep the spinnaker up in the building wind right through to the finish line, but be prepared for a quick drop on entering the channel
· Keep a constant look out for big container ships which can come in at speed and pass you in the narrowest part of the channel
· Be ready to answer questions and show gear on request to the safety inspector at the marina berth, who has kindly waited up for the last boat in, and made a helpful suggestion that the man overboard light should be checked every few hours through a night race as the bulb can come lose, and a Dolphin torch can be tied to the life ring instead
· Try not to faint when you see the results on the board the next morning!
· The most important lesson is : however grim things look, never ever give up before the finish line
After persevering for over 35 hours, Wishbone won the Short Handed Division, B Division and also beat all monohulls on PHRF with a margin of over 2 hours.