Mix T Motions RNI Leg 4 Report
24 Mar 2011
Leg 4 - Napier to Auckland
Our start was delayed for 24hrs because of yet another storm passing through. The forecast mentioned gusts of 60 knots and waves of 5m. Brent from Bird on the wing, showed us his computer info and stated "that's a lot of wind bro" a "lot of wind bro". We certainly had no inclination to be at sea in those conditions. The start the next day allowed most boats to hoist a kite of some description, our hoist was a little messy, but once we got it up we had a great run under the fractional spinnaker to Portland Island off Mahia Peninsula, averaging a speed of 8.5 knots, we were happy campers. After we turned the corner we were back to two sails, and an unsettled sea state, which made running squar difficult. At one point I was steering and three large (about 2/3 the height of the mast) breaking rogue waves loomed up behind me. Thankfully we rode over them without mishap, but they made me feel insecure. That night news of Pepe's dismasting reached us over the VHF, from their position they must have been going fast, possibly flying a kite. Although the wind was from behind, it was a very uncomfortable night due to the sea state. There were also plenty of very black clouds, with extra wind associated. We decided to continue just under mainsail, so that we could run as square as possible. Our top speed for the night was 16.1 knots while surfing down a wave. It was another night of intense concentration, and we were both tired when morning finally came. The night had put us further offshore than desired. Tacking over we were now two sail reaching towards East Cape, occasionally reaching speeds of 11-12knots, in about 25 knots of wind. As we neared East Cape, the wind got stronger and stronger. For piece of mind we put in the third reef again, "that's better", still doing 8.5 - 9 knots. Wind around 40 knots. Seas lumpy and confused as you would expect. Tom got me upstairs to witness a large water spout close by (what next). During my watch the sea made a dramatic change of colour from dark green to a bright light turquoise green. As we rounded the Cape we sighted another boat in close, it was Caro Vita. Then the wind eased until wee were virtually becalmed again. So all that wind had been associated with the Cape, the Cape of Cape's, worthy of respect. As we got out a bit the wind increased, the dark clouds were still around, and this time it was a bonus when you lucked into one. On my watch I managed to gybe the kite alone and overtake two boats, by riding under a black cloud. We used the same fractional kite that we used off the Wairarapa coast. By morning we were well out into the bay of plenty, and by that afternoon we were closing Cape Collville. We were beginning to anticipate the finish line. We had light winds under kite going through the Collville Channel. We could see Caro Vita behind. From the sched, Windarra and Island Girl were about 10 miles ahead. We were keen to try and catch them, so as we turned we hoisted our big blue gennaker again. It was a beautiful thing, good boat speed, a great sunset, Pink Floyd playing on the stereo and a sickle orange moon, which went down soon after the sun. However the inevitable was to happen and we eventually lost the wind. Our excitement waned and it turned into another long night of becalmments. Windarra went down the northern side of Rangitoto, and did well. Off Motutapu, we managed to drift ahead of Vesper and Island Girl under our Code 0. It was exhausting work tacking it by yourself. By morning Island Girl had crept ahead of us again, and it was a slow and frustrating tack up the harbour with the Code 0 to the finish line, Vesper had dropped behind, and Caro Vita were behind them.
We had finished. It had been an epic race for Mix T Motions (the smallest boat in the fleet). It was a great feeling to finish and be home (having survived with little damage). Putting Mix T Motions back to rest on her pile mooring (for her next outing - cruising), that?s enough excitement for a while.
Overall we ended up first in our division on handicap, and 8th overall on handicap. 6th on IRC. We got third on handicap for the last leg, which took 3 days. Thanks heaps to NZ Maritime radio, who did a magnificent job with the scheds. Thanks to all the race committee particularly David Cook, Cameron Thorpe, Brian Murray and Steve Ashley. Thanks also to the yacht clubs, who generously hosted us at the three stopover locations.