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Touchdown's B&G Simrad 100 report

09 Sep 2008

Touchdown's day started with a much better start than last time, we got off the line cleanly on stbd, a few secs late, but at the end we wanted. Gybed onto port and hoisted the medium kite. We'd decided caution would be the better bet, and thought there was a chance of some gusts coming out of Cheltenham. Last thing we needed was not being able to lay Rangi lite. Kite goes up beautifully, just as I call made I look down to see it all falling back down to go into the water. Could have sworn that snap shackle was closed properly, but it would seem not. The ensuing curse could probably be heard from Devonport wharf, but we luckily got it back on board with most of the bands intact, onto the other halyhard and tried again, not an ideal start after all.

Got ourselves sorted out, and see Zen are also having some difficulties next to us, feel a bit better. Get out to the channel, and it looks like a peel to the bigger kite might be on the cards after all. Quick trip up the rig to retrieve the kite halyhard, thank god its all fractional halyards. Wish I'd taken a camera up the rig with me, amazing view of the shorthaul fleet running down towards us on a perfect sailing day. Nice peel to the bigger kite once we've got our breath back and we settle down to a nice slide on the rangi side of the track. Realise we?re 30 mins into the race, and despite best intentions not wrecking ourselves too early this time, we?ve done 3 kite hoists and a trip up the rig. Get around the light, right next to 2 Y11's and Rolian, so we're holding our ground.

Fantastic sailing out to Tiri channel, we take a couple of gybes and cut into the Tiri side and gain 1/2 mile on the boats we'd been level pegging. Huge pod of dolphins come to say hi and stay for a while. Jagged Edge and mercenary are slowly reeling us in, looking like a close race between them. Realise the 3 of us are almost gybing in unison as the shifts come through, someone must be doing something right, and with the practice we're getting the hang of gybing this boat 2 up. Jagged heads of towards LB, and makes a nice gain as they get closer. We'd expected the pressure to drop closer in, but know for next time, quite a nice shift as you sail in to the island on stbd. LB looks stunning, the sight of some very small looking sails close in really gave it a sense of scale. Get around the corner and take the easy option of dropping the kite in the calm spot rather than holding on too long, but it paid off. Try to pick a fair line to come out the other side, JE goes in very close and stops for a while, but still just comes out ahead of the canary.

We've got a few faster boats behind us, and the lead boats look alot close than they did at flat rock in the last race. Feel we've sailed a reasonable 1st leg. Heavy No1 carries us over to channel Island in some reasonably solid breeze, only a couple of us are going to windward of the rumb line and horn rock, and it seems to pay later when we can crack off in the lumpier stuff by channel island. Get past a couple more, and come around right next to Zen, who throw in a reef as they come onto the wind. Stbd tack into Colville isn't too bad, tack over to port and we're banging into a pretty short sea and its getting a bit wet as it gets dark and we're right at the top end of the heavy 1. Not the most pleasant for an hour or so, and the spag bol for dinner is left in the fridge for breakfast. Hold onto the Heavy1 as the breeze should be dropping soon. We want to push left for the shift which is meant to come, but worried about losing the breeze closer to the shore. Really not sure how we were going on the beat, hard to keep track of who was who, and at least one crazy boat charging around with no nav lights on, not sure if they realised or not. Struggled to keep the boat in the groove as the breeze dropped and the chop didn't, instruments not co-operating, and just don't seem to be able to get the boat settled right. Breeze finally settled down below 12knts, and changed up to the light no1, and boat got alot better. Slight navigational problem (always remember to consult common sense before the chart plotter !! ), but get ourselves straightened out pretty quick smart. As we get closer to gannet realise we've got at least 6 boats behind us from our fleet, not looking too bad at all.

Locate gannet rock by sound and smell before we can see it, and the breeze is really light now. The 2 boats ahead seem to be losing alot of height as we settle in for a close fetch to Motohuie channel, and then home. Hold on, quick course check, and we realise there?s an extra few miles around motutap and rangi to go yet, ooops. Crack off a few degrees and it?s a perfect angle to bring out the flanker, our weapon of choice. It does what it?s meant to, and we're cracking along at 6+knts in around 10 of breeze, and hauling in the 2 boats ahead. Peel up to the big runner to get through Rakino, and as the moon goes down its getting pretty dark. Glad of that previous gybing practise as we throw a couple more in to get around the rocks and the corner, and accross to Rangi. Breeze is still clocking around nicely as we go around the corner, but getting a bit tighter so back to the flanker, and we make nice time across to the rangi corner. Breeze feels good, for about 8 knots that is, and we're cracking along, so call the coastguard to say we reckon we're an hour away from finishing. The very efficient lady doesn't actually laugh at us, but we do wonder what was causing her slightly odd tone.

As we come around the corner go back to the no1 and we can see a fair few boats around. We keep close to the rangi shore to hold into the breeze as much as we can, but its becoming pretty obvious there's a parking lot off north head. Ghost in with the flanker up again, and spend a half hilarious half frustrating 30 mins drifting around north head. Notice a few bigger boats, and the short haul fleet, and realise that some of these guys must have been here for a while. The fleet slowly sorts itself out into a line of 50 boats about 500m long right along the front edge of a breeze line. Interesting watching boats drop out of the line, but then get the breeze, reach around the back to a gap, and then park up again. We bring out the tissue sail / ghoster, but just the threat of another sail change is enough to bring on a much needed couple of knots from the East. Moses makes a quick appearance as he opens up a gap in the boats to windward, and we catch a nice puff to goose wing into the finish at the front part of the bunch. Sounds messy behind us as 40 boats try to cross a 200m long line all at once, and we worry if they got our finish time. Have a look at the boats around us, and realise it doesn't really matter, we're rated the slowest boat and we've finished within minutes of the leaders, including Truxton who won the 1st race. Must have been mighty frustrating for the faster boats, not sure how long the 1st of them were parked up for.

A big thank you to all the SSANZ crew for organizing us all, and running that finishing line, will be back for next time.

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