Cool Bear's B&G Simrad 50 2010 report
04 Jul 2010
"The longer you're out there the better it gets." By Cool Bear.
The forecast for this race (my 8th consecutive Simrad ) was the ugliest I had ever heard. Give me gales and rain any time over the forecast of almost dead calm for the first 6 hours of the race. Nonetheless, Cameron had told us that we would find that the "The longer you're out there the better it gets" for this race, so as one of the slower yachts in the Shorthaul division, I expected to spend the first part of the race anchored against the tide, but then sailing in steadily improving conditions till the finish, when I imagined myself finishing in the dark with a nice reaching breeze.
Our start (the first time) was quite good ! well down the line in lots of clear air, and we soon had the kite up and were going well. We then heard various comments about the AP being on display, and finally through listening to other people that our start had been postponed ? no wonder we looked so good! Oh well, pack the spinnaker again.
Next start was still OK ? same place, slightly worse start. All the yachts sailed quite well up to North Head where we joined the majority of the Longhaul division who were parked up there.
After a long, long time of furious trimming and turning, we noticed that some boats had slipped clear of the trap by sneaking up the shoreline on the left, so we headed over there at full speed (approx 0.4 knots). Sadly we came across a port-tack boat that looked like we were going to hit, as he was even slower than us, and was never going to be able to turn quick enough for us to avoid them, (though they did try their best) so we tacked back onto port and promptly lost all steerage.
We found ourselves pointing towards Bean Rock for 4 or 5 minutes while we tried to make the wind hit the sails so that we could turn. We eventually got momentum again, and found ourselves pointed out towards the right, following close behind Communique and Hot Gossip, with Destiny In Motion just to leeward of us. The right did not look quite so unfavoured as it had before, and when Communique and Hot Gossip tacked back to the left, we held on with Destiny In Motion ? BIG mistake.
Suffice it to say that we really only passed North head at about 11:30 or so, and sailed at a ripping 0.8 to 2.4 knots for some time before settling into the real breeze, which was now on the nose for us, so we were now travelling very fast at about 2.0 to 2.9 knots.
The boats on the left had done WAY better than us by the time we made it past the lighthouse, and we despaired of ever seeing any of the other Farr 9.2 yachts again, except for Destiny In Motion who had been out on the rotten right with us. We were therefore surprised to find after we had beat all the way to Billy Goat point and spinnakered our way round the top of Motutapu that we could see ALL of the F9.2 fleet, not separated by more than about 500m.
Communique was the first F9.2, then Hot Gossip, Short Circuit, then Alberta Rose and Cloud 9 very close together, then Cool Bear and Destiny In Motion. We had a good run down the side of Motutapu, and were very pleased with ourselves when we managed to sail some good angles and get through to 3rd position rounding Motuihe Green just inside Short Circuit. We showed quite good speed here, often managing 2.8 knots, and even 3.5 occasionally. The last 5 Farr 9.2 yachts were really close together at this point, and from what I could see it looked like Destiny In Motion had managed to pass Alberta Rose and ended up side by side with Cloud 9 as they rounded.
The reach round the Southern end of Motuihe was nice for us, and it seemed we might have had slightly better breeze than the other boats as we pulled away slightly here, then really extended away on the very tight reach towards Passage Rock ? Cool Bear's best point of sail with her reaching-style spinnaker. It was getting dark so we lost track of all other yachts at this point.
All was going well at this stage, and we managed to sail the kite to within 1.5 miles of Passage rock, but the wind was really fading here, so we were a LONG time rounding Passage Rock. Once we rounded, we were travelling well for a while, then the wind died away again. It was really difficult to keep the boat moving , we were back to 0.8 to 2.8 knots, and still 9 miles from Browns Island Beacon. We sailed in this light stuff for hours, and trying to get round the Browns Island Beacon was a nightmare, but we were not alone in our misery. There were other boats retiring from the race at around this time, about 11:30pm., and others like ourselves trying to overtake Browns Island in horribly fickle breeze.
EVENTUALLY we beat our way round Browns Island beacon at about 00:30am,upon which the wind promptly stopped, then went South! As there was not much we could do except float along, I sent Tony below for a kip. He had an hour's pleasant sleep (I could hear him snoring) while I tried to sail past Browns Island. The wind was very light, and we lost steerage again for about 10 minutes, before a few knots of Easterly breeze appeared. I eventually passed the end of Browns Island at about 1:30am (1 hour of sailing for 0.25 miles), and woke Tony as it seemed the kite might work. It did, and the breeze stayed in long enough for us to sail quite well towards Bean Rock, where we caught up with another yacht trying to get along with their A-sail, though it was really too broad for that to work very well.
We rounded Bean Rock just inside them, and raced at about 6.2 knots towards the pier at Orakei. It was difficult to pick the correct line, and the boys on the prod boat were sailing overlapped to leeward with their gennaker working well, so we ended up sailing a very high and fast line towards the finish. We did both eventually have to bear away A LOT to pass on the correct side of the sewer beacon, and there we were, finished almost last in the fleet at something like 3:20 am.
This is the longest drifter I have ever finished, but we never considered giving up. Even if we had thought of doing so, we were expecting that it was a case of "The longer you're out there the better it gets". Turns out that ALL of the forecasts were wrong on this. Nonetheless, Tony and I were happy with our race and enjoyed the day, especially as it did not rain. All went well apart from a slight under-stocking in the Bourbon and Coke department due to unforeseen delays. I will have to put the rum bottle back on the boat (to hell with the weight) in case of another extra-long race.
I see from the results that Communique and Hot Gossip finished well ahead of the rest of us, well done guys, see you at the next one. Thanks SSANZ, good job as always with the race and the results, and at least the race very character-building.
Farr 9.2 Cool Bear.
Editor Note A good sailing breeze filled in after dawn on Sunday... so the forecast was right, just 12-18 hours later than the prediction on Thursday. So if only you had stayed out there abit longer....