Cool Bear's B&G Simrad 60 2009 Report
12 Aug 2009
Cool Bear Simrad 60.
The day was lovely to start with, we took a while to choose the number 1, as the wind was right on the turnover point for #2 for us, and forecast to get up later. Nonetheless, we were happy with our choice of #1. We could see boats lining up to come in to start on starboard, and knew that we were likely to end up being tacked on the line, so held back just slightly on Port, and got through where there was a gap. Not elegant or very competitive, but it was messy there and we just wanted to be sailing clean. Pretty ordinary start really, about mid-fleet off the line I guess, but we did have pace, clear air, and plenty of room to leeward off the line. From then on, things went downhill rapidly. The beat was awful. We fell down onto boats beneath us like a brick, the headsail luffing badly. I must have had too much luff tension on the halyard or something. We slackened it slightly after a few minutes and that was perhaps a little better, but we were still not going well.
We chose reasonable directions, working mostly towards the left for the left-hand bend towards Tiri, but we were terribly low most of the time, and slow the rest of the time. I don't know what we were doing wrong, but it was not pretty, and despite making some gains on positioning, we lost ground on speed and height most of the time. Oh well. We were the last of the 6 Farr 9.2 yachts to round Tiri Navy buoy, as Communique was well ahead, then Hot Gossip, followed at some distance by Cloud 9, then Champers, then Destiny in Motion, and our Cool Bear at the back.
Then we were off with kite up towards Gannet Rock. We were reasonably close to Destiny In Motion and Cloud 9 and Champers, so the 4 of us were in touch for a while, with Champers showing a bit of extra pace to overtake Cloud 9, But Communique and Hot Gossip were long gone. The reach went OK till the rain squall came through. We saw quite a few yachts broaching or having trouble with spinnaker, and the big left-hand swing caused us to point up long way North of our line, going almost due East in fact. Champers were ahead of us and experiencing the same problems, but Destiny In Motion were quick to douse the kite and get back on course, though they did sail bare-headed for a while (perhaps changing headsail?).
We hung on and hoped the wind would change back or drop so we could either get back on course, or gybe. The waves were big and irregular, and the wrong direction for the wind where we were, so we decided not to do the gybe, and pulled the kite down instead, then gybed and set off 2-sail reaching towards the rock at a very nice fast angle, making 8 and 9 knots for a while. We saw Champers still having some trouble with getting their kite down, but visibility was not good.
Sadly the wind went back to the right (NW) slightly, so with only a short distance to go, we were once again almost on a run. As we were close to the rounding and the spinnaker was a sodden mess on the floor, we just poled out the number 1 for the last 2 miles.
We held on to the #1 as we rounded, expecting that the wind would die down a bit, in time, and this proved to be OK for us. We were well over-powered early on, but that did not last for very long and in the end we were happy to have the #1 up. I do think that if we had not been so lazy, the #2 might have been a faster sail overall, but we were not dreadfully overpowered with #1 and were making satisfactory speed.
At this stage in the race, we took stock and found that Destiny in Motion had recovered well in the squall, and were well ahead of us and going away fast. They have always been good uphill, and I think they would have been happy with their performance on that long beat. Cloud 9 was about 200m ahead, and we were staying in touch with them. Champers was some way behind, having finally recovered from their spinnaker take-down problems.
We short-tacked away from the headland at Onetangi, while Cloud 9 did a much longer tack out North, which brought us into contention with them as we DID make it past the rocky NW corner of Waiheke. We were then immediately to Leeward and quite close to Cloud 9. They held us off nicely, sailing forward and over our air, at which time I let Tony do the sailing while I trimmed, as we were now on a close reach. We managed to hang onto Cloud 9 as we made our way to Emu point, then managed to sneak through the wind shadow off the cliff-hung corner of Motutapu, so now we were to windward and even with Cloud 9.
We sailed side by side for miles, with no gain or loss, till FINALLY Tony managed to get just enough extra puff earlier than them so we could get our nose onto their air - we thought we had them nicely tucked away. Then Cloud 9 did a great job of popping out from behind our transom and sailing high onto our hip, losing very little ground in the process, very nice sailing from them. There they were, sailing up to within a couple of boat-lengths of us. We were concentrating SO hard, and I'm sure they were too. We eventually finished like that, with Cloud 9 maybe 3-4 boat-lengths directly clear astern.
We were not really very happy with our performance on the day, but we only made a couple of bad mistakes, we just had terrible speed and height to windward. We maybe would have been faster with the #2 from Gannet Rock to Motutapu, but would have had to change back up to #1 again there anyway. Our decision not to gybe the spinnaker was based on my assessment of risk for the manoeuvre at the time in the wave conditions, and I was reasonably comfortable with the choice, but we should have done that MUCH earlier on in the piece instead of sailing miles off course. However, we came out of the race with all our gear intact and undamaged, just wet.
We enjoyed our day immensely, and thanks to Cloud 9 for a really exciting race to the finish. It was incredibly tense for us, and I don?t think that we have ever focussed as hard as that for as long as that. It was great stuff, and we only made it ahead of the boys on Cloud 9 because of a lucky break at Emu point, the boats were absolutely even on speed. We also had good racing with Champers up the first beat, and saw a bit of Destiny in Motion for a while. Well sailed the Communique team, a good race as usual. Hot Gossip and Destiny in Motion also did well despite some problems. The long race is next ! let's hope it is as much fun as the last two.