Communique's B&G Simrad 100 2010 report
20 Sep 2010
Communiqué SIMRAD 100 Report
The TV One weather of Friday night was devoted to the mother of all storms approaching New Zealand. The storm battered the house overnight but did not seem quite as violent in the morning as I made breakfast and prepared lunch and dinner to take with me for the final race of the SIMRAD series. For once in this series it was not likely that a Sunday breakfast on board should be considered.
Heading down the harbour cup of tea in hand we were pleased to hear a familiar voice announce on the VHF that it would be the heavy weather course. I was dreading the prospect of 30 knot winds on the long course, I am no longer confident that I am up for a 30 knot battering for a day and a night.
Hoisting sail in the lee of the container terminal we were quickly at Orakei wharf and able to watch the long course division start. The squall that then struck as we were making our own final preparations, a late change to our jib sheeting layout. In the ensuing confusion I was uncertain if we had been an early starter and turned back to restart, losing about 1 minute or so and all the while consoling myself that it would be a long hard day to carry any uncertainty about our start.
With reaching legs ahead full main seemed the way to go and certainly in the lulls we were comfortably powered up. At other times with the beam sea it was not as easy, but seemed a better choice than the reef(s) of our fellow F9.2s. We were pleased to bear away another 40 degrees at Rangi light and were well rewarded with some very dramatic bursts, giving us an indicated 12 knots.
Off Motutapu the wind eased significantly and we debated the small kite, without any real enthusiasm. The gybe at Haystack saw us heading for Motihue on a similar apparent wind angle to the previous leg, fast sailing in relatively easy sea conditions. Lulled by this rather pleasant sail into a false sense of comfort we rounded Motihue and came onto the wind without having given it much thought. However we were soon thinking about a reef. We then found that the reefing eyes would not fit over the bull horns at the gooseneck or alternatively that we were too weak to make them fit. A lash up followed but not before the top batten had escaped from the flogging mainsail.
Progress looked to be good with good boat speed but in the building wind it seemed that the second reef might give us some respite from the flogging main and the heavy roundups in each squall. We put a long board into Rangi looking for flatter water and this was a good look with some strong northerly lifts coming down over the island. By Mission Bay we felt it was all a bit much and dragged the headsail down, finding that it was on the point of shredding itself in any event. For the next little while we caught our breath bare headed before setting the spitfire jib, a late call but this scrap of a sail lifted our performance very noticeably. Crossing the line at the wharf to welcome gunfire we heaved a huge sigh of relief.
The battle up the harbour remained and it was not until the sails were down in the lee of the tank farm that I felt we could relax with mission accomplished. We are safely on our marina tired and sore but pleased to have only minor damage. Others have been less fortunate with at least one boat towed into Westhaven and I am sure that there are others with issues much more dramatic than our own. It is nice not to have been humiliated by the lightweight skimmers but it will be at least 24 hours before I am willing to do it all again.