Cool Bear's 2009 B&G Simrad 50 report
05 Jul 2009
Race 1 Report.
This year we again had 5 Farr 9.2 entries, Champers, Cloud 9, Cool Bear, Destiny in Motion and Hot Gossip. The 5 yachts are on the whole fairly evenly matched, with slight differences for sail quality and hull weight evident, but mostly it's about how you sail the boat.
Wind was very nice, NE averaging 12 knots or so from about 50 degrees, lovely sailing conditions, and not too bumpy. Start was OK for us, we were close to the line at full speed, just to windward and behind Destiny In Motion, and Champers was close by, either just ahead or just behind. Cloud 9 was also close just a little way behind us, but I have no idea where Hot Gossip was.
It was a long 1-leg starboard tack beat out to Rangi Light, so the start was easy and relatively trouble free for most yachts I think, and it was comfortable sailing with full sail and smooth water.
Off the line we were OK, Destiny in Motion was doing slightly better than us in the early stages, and Champers was close and very even. We 3 held on a long way on starboard, before tacking to port and working our way over to the right, as we had to round Billy Goat point at the top of Motutapu.
By now I'd seen Hot Gossip, way to the right and windward of the rest of us and going very well. They were clearly leading by the time we had passed Rangi light, and were going slightly better than the other yachts to my eye ? it seems Andy Kemp has his rig and sails nicely sorted, and was sailing in the right piece of water. The right-hand side did seem to be paying better, as when we got over that way, Cloud 9 crossed ahead of us, having been a little behind earlier on in the beat. Steve Horne must have chosen to go right earlier than us, and it obviously worked well for him.
Destiny in Motion was steadily making small gains on us, and we were never really closer to them than about 80m throughout the beat, though we were crossing tacks with Champers and Cloud 9, sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. I was doing a poor job of dodging some of the Y88 boats and other faster yachts that were now beginning to make their presence felt. This meant that boats sailing more sensibly than us were going away from us, so by Billy Goat point, Hot Gossip was a few minutes ahead of Destiny, we were about 2 minutes behind them, and Champers was only a few boat-lengths behind us. I think Cloud 9 must have been quite close at that stage, but admit I did not actually identify Cloud 9 again till she rounded Passage Rock a few minutes behind us.
We close-reached across the Northern end of Motutapu, and went for the kite as soon as we could after turning South towards Motuihe green buoy. We did not do a great job of getting it up, Tracey and Jevon on Champers did much better, and were breathing down our necks looking very professional while we still had our genoa in the way. Destiny had their big red kite on, and we could see Hot Gossip some distance ahead going well. We had a nice broad reach all the way to Motuihe Green, and made some gains on Destiny, but not on Champers who were just behind us. At Motuihe Green we were about 1 minute behind Destiny, and about 30 seconds ahead of Champers.
The 2-sail reach across to Passage Rock was similar to last year. 2-sail fairly tight on Port tack. We decided to give the land a wider berth than some as we expected the wind to move left during the reach rather than right, but we had to sail along at good speed in the meantime. Destiny In Motion was going well, Boyd Wason is sailing the boat very cleanly, and with previous owner Matt Woodley on board, they were having a solid race and maintaining good pace. Hot Gossip was a fair way ahead by then I think, though I only identified her after she rounded Passage Rock as we were still approaching.
We were reasonably even on pace with Destiny, just ahead, and Champers, just to windward and astern, but at times we lost focus, and both of these yachts would make gains on us. By the time we got to passage rock, Boyd had Destiny at least 2 minutes ahead of us, and Champers had passed. Also, the wind went right, which left us having to put in a short tack to clear the dangerous rocks at Passage Rock reef, while the others sailed straight through, so we rounded at least a minute behind Champers, who was about 2 minutes behind Destiny in Motion.
Again we all went for kite as quickly as possible, but Destiny and Champers were a fair bit ahead quite quickly. I made the mistake of sailing up into the wind shadow of a bigger 2-sail yacht, and that cost us a few boat-lengths, so by the time I'd sailed down again for clear air, and re-accelerated to pass them, Champers and Destiny were some distance ahead.
The wind was almost Easterly by now, and Champers was looking good. They passed Destiny in Motion somewhere around Rocky Bay or Putiki Bay by sailing good reaching angles with nice speed. Tracey and Jevon did a nice job of sailing the gybes downwind to best advantage, and took a lot of ground out of us lazy types who were sailing more or less straight and slow downwind. Destiny responded and also gybed to sail reaching angles, and we simply sat and watched them go, before EVENTUALLY deciding to join the fun. The wind was easy so the gybes were all well controlled. Cloud 9 had caught up to us a little, and were not far behind as we approached Browns Island.
Suddenly the rain came down and the wind went peculiar. Lots of yachts had collapsed spinnakers as it bucketed down and the wind stopped and went in circles. At one point we had our spinnaker blow back on our faces when just seconds before we had been on a run! We just trimmed and turned and rounded and wriggled, same as everyone else, trying to keep some air in the sail and movement through the water.
After the main rain and disturbance passed, the wind then DID go left and strengthened a bit, and suddenly we found ourselves in a terrible battle to hold onto our kite and get past the outside of Browns Island Beacon. Tony helmed, and I struggled with the kite sheet and mainsheet to keep Cool Bear upright. We made it, but what a close thing it was. That was a moment where we actually did sail as well as we possibly could have, and it was pleasing to make the mark in good shape with a few of boat-lengths to spare.
As we approached the beacon itself, we found that we were just to leeward and ahead of Destiny In Motion with their big red kite. They must have been affected much worse than us by the circular breeze and wind holes, as they were a LONG way ahead of us when the rain began to fall. Now we were able to gradually eke out a small lead over them as our little reaching kite proved to be a better weapon for the beam reach (wind now from NE at about 12 knots) than their big red kite. Champers had done well through all this, and was well ahead of us. I could not see Hot Gossip (too far ahead) or Cloud 9, who I think must have been without their spinnaker for this last leg of the race.
The reach to Bean rock was fairly tight all the way, and we stretched out to about 1 minute ahead of Destiny, but as we bore away around Bean Rock to go to the finish, Destiny did regain some of the ground. As can be seen from the results, they were close behind at the end.
Hot Gossip had a good race, we were never close to them, and they steadily sailed away from us throughout, winning easily in the end. Andy has his boat well-sorted, and is doing a lot of racing, so it was not surprising that he sailed a sensible race, though I have no idea what his start was like.
Destiny also sailed better than us throughout the day until the wind went weird at Browns Island. We had never looked like catching them, and it was pure luck that we overtook them at Browns Island beacon. Champers had a good day. They sailed very nicely and executed all their manoeuvres better than us. We were close to Champers all the way until Passage Rock, we would never have been more than 50m ahead or behind them for the whole race until that point, but from then on they sailed better, and deserved to finish well ahead of us as they did. Cloud 9 also had a good sail, but must have been poorly treated by the strange breeze at Browns Island, as they were reasonably close to us as we approached Browns Island before the rain.
Today, my bum and thighs ache, but on the whole nothing too bad. I saw some boats broach and rip spinnakers in the little squally bit by Brown Island, but all in all, this was a relatively easy race, nice conditions and smooth water, though everything got well soaked in the rain. We are having great racing with the other boats in our Farr 9.2 fleet, and also with some of the other yachts in the Shorthaul division.
Obviously we are not currently sailing in the same league as Hot Gossip, so we will need to find LOTS of improvement in tactics, boat-handling and a micron of extra speed to make any impression on them in Race 2. The other yachts are very even, and we hope to be racing close with Champers, Destiny and Cloud 9 in the rest of the series, and perhaps we may find a way to close up on Hot Gossip ? who knows?
We really enjoyed our race, and look forward to the next, when no doubt the racing will be close again - bring it on!