Cool Bear's B&G Simrad 100 report
19 Sep 2010
Cool Bear 2010 Simrad 100.
The weather forecast was for strong wind, even a gale warning was out for the Hauraki Gulf. I had been checking weather predictions from Windfinder, and they kept the opinion that wind would be about 20 to 25 Knots average with gust up to 35, and I believed them, so went towards the start with #2 headsail and 1 reef. Wind seemed stronger than that, so we took in the second reef before our start.
Wind was really strong just before our start. With all the noise and boats rocketing about at high speed, we did not get to hear or see any signals except to notice that the start was likely to be 30-odd seconds behind GPS time. We lined up for a Port start expecting the fast run in, but we held up too long and then there was suddenly less wind for a bit and it was behind us. So, we made a one minute late start at the boat. Oh well, we were away and safe.
Sail to Rangi light was busy enough, but easy with our small sails, and most boats seemed comfortable on the whole, with the odd round-up in the puffs. Communique was somehow holding on to his full mainsail (I must ask him how he does that) and was going well, about 200m ahead, with Short Circuit not far behind us (also with 2 reefs I think). We were well overpowered as we passed the lighthouse, and even with 2 reefs and the vang loose we still rounded up a few times which is very slow. Lost a LOT of ground to Fendall in one gusty patch where the wind hammered us hard and we could not bear away to our course for a minute or two. Poor boat-handling I suspect.
On to the Haystack and the wind was settling back a bit, and Fendall was going away from us with his full mainsail, so we shook out the #2 reef, this was OK and we were happy with speed here. Then it looked as if the wind was going to ease a bit more so we took out all the reefs, and this was good at that time.
The gybe at haystack was painless. The Farr 9.2 mainsail is not very big and there was not too much wind. From there it was a sort of broad reach and beam reach to Motuihe. The boat was doing sustained speeds of 8.5 and 9 knots in the stronger patches of breeze, and we saw sustained 10.2 a few times. The wind was increasing again. We decided we would reef again when we rounded Motuihe, which we did.
It was gusty and fickle around the Southern end of Motuihe, and we were doing a poor job of sailing the boat here. We nearly fell on top of a Y88 down to leeward as we were sailing so low, and did not see him till we were almost on top of him. Needless to say they were rightly indignant to find us falling down onto their wind (sorry guys), and we had to tack away ASAP as we were windward boat and needed to give them room.
The beat home was rough. Wind was up, and there were some decent lumps to hit though it wasn't REALLY rough. Some of the puffs were strong. The Nowcasting had it 49 peak and 37 average at Bean rock when we listened, and it did feel windy. We now definitely had too much sail up for windward work in breeze that was often over 30 knots for quite sustained periods (maybe 30 seconds to a minute in some of the puffs). In the average of the breeze which was probably at a guess about 26 knots, we were fine, making about 5 to 5.4 knots sailing at our normal apparent wind angle.
We did have one problem that really slowed us down a bit, which was that our headsail halyard (a bit hard and shiny from disuse because we use a furler) was starting to slip in the cleat in the biggest puffs. The slightly scalloped look to the headsail did not worry me much till we got passed by the boys in the Chico 30 "Cheetah" going much faster than us, when up till then we had been reasonably even with them. At that point, we tightened the halyard and tied it off to stop it slipping again, and we suddenly regained our pace, though it was too late to catch the Chico; they were going well with the wind quite strong at this stage. I was annoyed with myself for thinking that the scalloped look was not too bad, but it obviously cost us at least 0.7 of a knot for quite a long time. We probably lost 500m with this error.
Once we passed level with Bean Rock, the trip to the Finish was uneventful, except that the wind had moved back to the left a lot just when we wanted to tack over to finish from the right, so we had to sail lots of extra distance on port tack with the wind lifting us continuously until we had a chance to tack onto Starboard for the finish.
Altogether an educational day, and one in which we should have used smaller sails. We wasted WAY too much time shaking out reefs when we were sailing fast on a reach with wind abaft the beam, and lost miles of ground to Fendall and Short Circuit. Also, the sailing with oversized sails on the beat home just HAD to be slow, I should have put on the #3 and maybe taken in the second reef again.
All in all we enjoyed the sail, and while we would have preferred to do the FULL course rather than the heavy weather course, we were glad to stop in the end.
Thanks SSANZ for a very different 2010 series. It is not your fault that the weather was not what we all wanted, but that's the thing about the Simrad, it's SUPPOSED to be a challenge and it SHOULD feel hard.
That's my last Simrad in our Farr 9.2 Cool Bear. The Farr 9.2 fleet has grown over the years (7 entered this year) and it has been really enjoyable racing for us. Thanks to all of the others for coming out to play. I have loved Cool Bear and her excellent sailing abilities, but have not sailed her well. A naturally fast boat like that should show far better in the results than she has, and that's due to some ordinary sailing by yours truly.
Nonetheless, we have been competitive in patches, and I guess that's the difference between good sailors and ordinary ones, their "good patches" are longer than ours. Certainly the boys on Communique have sailed long "good patches" and have put together a good series again for 2010. Well done to Fendall and Stu on another great effort in the Simrad.
Hopefully we will be back next year in our new (old) boat, a 1986 Don Senior 10m called "Romany II", though she was formerly named "Terrahawk".
Meantime, happy summer sailing to everyone, see you next year.