Cool Bear's 2009 B&G Simrad 100 report
06 Sep 2009
Cool Bear Simrad 100.
Last race for 2009 Simrad, and as the race day approached, it sounded like there would be lots of wind. Yippee, I thought, maybe we can sail with our #2 in some strong breeze instead of struggling uphill in medium breeze with our awful #1. Sadly, it was not to be, and race day dawned bright and clear, no wind warning, and a long way to go.
We started well enough, at the inner distance mark and only about 15 seconds behind the gun. Kite up quick, fumble the winching of the last few feet of spinnaker halyard and DAMMIT, there goes a $110 floating winch handle ? pig?s bum. I don?t know WHY I buy those floating winch handles - I have lost 3 in races and never even attempted to return to pick them up. Same this time. Oh well, onwards and upwards.
We had made our plan for the race before the start based on the forecasting I had seen, so held our low line towards the lighthouse, but with Cloud 9.2 hassling us from astern, we were shoved up to the right more than we would wish. From there, we simply followed our plan for the race, based ENTIRELY on what windfinder.com and MetVUW said about the weather. We sailed straight to Little Barrier, sticking more or less to the rhumb line but for puffs and lulls, and assiduously avoided any temptation to go too far right ? even though it looked so good. The weather forecasts I saw said that there was no way to come back from the right till after 4:00 pm.
We had Cloud 9 sailing very well, a good tactical line well to our left, and Destiny In Motion, Hot Gossip and Champers all well to the right. In the end Cloud 9 and Cool Bear prevailed, and Cool Bear got to the big rock about 4 boat-lengths ahead of Cloud 9, with the other F9.2s a long way back.
You would think there would be some nice sense of camaraderie between the folks on Cloud 9 and Cool Bear, but no. The evil-doers aboard Cloud 9 (Steve Horne and fill-in crew David Lowe) then proceeded to harry and persecute the innocent Cool Bear all the way around the side of Little Barrier, aided and abetted by some interference from some naughty Y88 and Farr 1020 yachts. We held off the guys on Cloud 9, but they had the last laugh, as we were just a bit closer to the rock than them as the wind went forward, and they shot away from us.
We were about 100m behind Cloud 9 as we cleared Little Barrier, and quite a long way ahead of Hot Gossip, then Destiny In Motion. Champers we did not see again for the remainder of the race.
Now for the beat ? we were making around 5.6 ? 5.9 knots, but not going anywhere near as well as Cloud 9, who were sailing very nicely. By the time we tacked to have a look at the line on port tack, and came back again, Cloud 9 were about 300-400m ahead, making us feel every bit as slow as we really are. We saw Hot Gossip coming at us as well, but then the wind went up a bit, and we started to hold our own for a while. It got dark soon after that, and we were headed left, having decided to sail a line left of centre to pass well to the East of Tiri.
It was not nice ? dark and rough, and about 18 knots of breeze at times, so we were well overpowered and struggling for pace, but I honestly did NOT expect the wind to stay over 15 knots as long as it did. We had a very hard time maintaining boat-speed better than 4.8-5.2 knots as we thumped and crashed our way out to the left on Starboard tack. Just after dark, we ripped off the leech line on the Genoa, so the genoa leech fluttered from then on until the wind dropped below 5 knots. It was horrible, shaking the whole boat and rig for about 10 hours of the beat.
Our forecast showed the wind going left at about midnight for about 2-3 hours, then going back to the SW again, so we planned to round Tiri with a wide clearance (to avoid the outgoing tide which would be at its max at midnight) and to look for the expected left-hander. Sure enough, at around 11:30pm, the left-hander arrived and soon steadied, and we were able to tack onto a port tack course of 225-230 instead of the standard 250 from the previous 7 hours.
From here, we just headed straight towards the Rangi Light, aiming to sail straight across the channel with the incoming tide, and wait for the wind to go back to the right again at around 2:30am. The wind duly did go right at about 2:30 am, and we were close to the shore, but still on the edge of the deep water for tide help. We did tack across once, and go back to the shore again when the wind appeared to flick S slightly, and this time when it went SW it stayed there, so we were in great shape for our final approach along the East Coast Bays shore-line.
We heard boats calling in saying they were 1 hour from the finish when they were by Rangi Light, but the wind was very light and slightly fickle. We re-focussed and did our best. Tony (my crew) was fantastic, trimming gently and smoothly, doing everything he could to get us there, but it was really light air. You could hear the concentration on all the boats out there ? everybody was determined as we were. We did not call in our ?1 hour to go? to Coastguard till we were level with North Head, 1.16 miles from the finish, and it took as almost 45 minutes from there.
Amazing how the hot air off the heaters and toasted muffins aboard the luxurious SSANZ finish boat seems to cause a huge vortex around the finish line, which just sucks the life out of the breeze! We were freezing out there and just wanted bed, but it took us till 4:50 to finish in the dead zone around the finish line. A bunch of yachts (that we had been ahead of) crossed in a tentacle of breeze that came through on the Eastern side of the course, and we just hoped that none of those was Cloud 9.
We had a great day. We knew that we had sailed well to the excellent weather forecast, and we had a good start and made no bad mistakes, but we also knew that we were terribly slow and low to windward, and with the boat shaking like an unbalanced washing machine for most of the beat, we thought that the faster uphill yachts would have cleaned us out.
Getting the gun at the finish was therefore somewhat of a surprise. When I saw Steve Ashley getting the gun ready and pointing it more-or-less at Cool Bear, I really had hoped that he would blow a hole in that dreadful genoa so I could get another one on the insurance, but he bungled it and missed, even though we were right alongside the finish boat.
Needless to say we were very happy. We had a good race and an excellent battle with the boys on Cloud 9, and once again, even though we were tired and frozen to the marrow, both Tony and I agreed we would be back again next year.
Thanks to the other boats that made the racing so interesting in our fleet. Congrats to Cloud 9 for the handicap win, they were second across the line and had a very good race. We raced hard with all of the yachts in the Farr 9.2 fleet at one point or another throughout the series, and it is wonderful training to race long distances against similar yachts ? teaches you focus and boat-speed skills.
SSANZ, we love your work. Great job on everything ? it is really remarkable how well you people manage the series and get the results out so promptly. A real credit to the hard work you do. Thankyou.
PS, Thanks also for the nice bottle of Coruba for writing these little reports ? much appreciated.