Nonstop RNI report
02 Apr 2011
RNI Race 2011
Nonstop Report- "Half a Lap"
This race is all about preparation, and in a lot of ways it began 3 years ago in the last race. For us it was very much about putting a few of the tricks we learnt in 2008 into action. This especially led to some changes in our watch system and rest/sleep goals, and how we managed ourselves.
We have a good strong boat that is well prepared, and can handle rough conditions quite well too.
We got the boat up to
Leg One -
We left Bayswater by about 11.30 am as we were all organised and just wanted to get going. Went out and had a quiet sail up around North Head to get a lay of the land and to figure out the various angles.
We listened intently to Dave Cooke at briefing telling everyone numerous times not to be over the line at the start.
Prior to the Saturday 1400 start we did lots of sailing along the line etc to get ourselves sorted out. This brilliant work showed our experience and helped us put cunning plan #1 into action. We were one of a group of 6 or so boats that were over at the start by the pin, nice work boys! The real cunning bit was that once we quickly circled back, we had most of the fleet in front of us and at our mercy! We then picked up a nice little southerly puff and got the A5 up earlier than most. From there we worked our way across to the Rangi light getting back into the fleet. For the rest of the afternoon all the boats drifted/sailed in and out of holes up to Tiri Passage in the light SE to Southerly. We were about 4th on the water at Tiri and within 5 minutes last as we had a turn in our private hole while everyone sailed/drifted past. A number of the fleet went outside Tiri and did better, but by early evening they had got lonely and gybed back in and it was pretty even.
Nightfall had most of the fleet pretty close and off
With the plotter telling us it was about 2 days to Mangonui and knowing Jenny and Sue were already drinking rum at the Sailing Club it was another of those "just a tad frustrating moments". It was time for another cunning plan! This involved flopping around going nowhere until 2200 when finally a 10 knot westerly filled in from
That was a great end to a very slow and frustrating leg one of the race.
Leg Two- Mangonui to
The 10am start outside Mangonui was again in really light air, but looking to build from the SW. We worked our way up to
Most of our close competitors soon did a big tack out to the east, from inshore. We were convinced the next breeze would come from the SW, and stayed hard inshore. The nowcasting telling us Reinga had SW also helped us decide! We soon picked up a beautiful 15 knot offshore breeze that had us scooting up inside a heap of boats stuck out to sea in a big windless hole.
At this stage the race was all the mattered, the next breeze or every lift and knock was life and death. It was then we turned on the radio for the 3 o'clock news and heard the unbelievable news of the
The gains we made into the evening were pretty exciting for us as we pulled up to find Overload and most of the big boys had waited for us. On dark about 15 of us pretty much went around
Just before daylight on Wednesday morning we were starting to get around the corner, I pulled on some backstay. With a bang, a "what the f#@k was that?" and a clatter of stringy and block bits trailing behind in the dark I decided perhaps not to use the backstay at that stage. Mark and I spent until light talking through the issues and knowing that with the next 400 miles on the nose, a backstay may be handy. On daylight we sussed it was only a shackle broken on a triple block. It was quite a flat sea, so I went up on the chair to the second spreader and was able to lasso the top half of the backstay and get it low enough we could get everything back together with the help of Mr Dynex. It took about an hour and a bit of sailing north to sort then we were back into it, by now convinced we were dead last (not so as it happened).
Off Maria Van Diemen, the wind started to freshen from the SE, and was clearly not a wee land breeze. A look back at the evil purple cyclonic sky inshore, it took a nano second to work out that a nasty tropical derived system was tracking closer to the east of the North Island than forecast so we decided we were not going to be playing in close- and we were on port tack and on our way to
The plan was to keep going out until we got the expected Southerly (or we saw
We tacked back over onto starboard about 0900 on Thursday (probably about 4 hours too late- but we only had eyes and tired minds, no flash computer programmes) and were pointing pretty much down our line to Egmont. At this stage we were 180 nautical miles offshore from
It was a real surprise to hear of all the carnage later for the boats inshore.
At 0100 Friday the wind swung further west as expected, and we spent all of the day with cracked sheets and 7-8 knots boatspeed. Surely we had to be gaining!
If only the forecast SE change expected at night would hold off enough to get us well down into
We made sure we were well rested and had a good feed while the going was good though in anticipation of the change. We passed off
Then the wind started changing, and so down to the #3. Later we put in 2 reefs as the wind built to about 30-35 knots. That sail combo worked well for us as we worked our way south down through the Oil rigs in a nasty 3m breaking sea. We listened on the VHF to the dramas for Fineline loosing their rig about 40 miles ahead. (It would take us 18 hours to pass that position!) We did slow the boat to avoid launching out the back of the waves- to keep us and Nonstop in one piece. By daybreak on Saturday conditions were easing and we were well north of Stephens Island, soon back to #1 and full main (while some other boats were pulling into to various spots to rest a while, ahead and behind). A tack east got us back into breeze again during the afternoon, and by overnight Saturday we got another pasting as we tacked south. This time there was penguin poo in the air- it was freezing cold.
On Sunday morning the wind eased and we were near Kapiti Island working towards the first of a light NE promising to go north later. Mark cooked up a great feed, and with lots to drink we were all prepared for a big day. Up with the big masthead kite and out with the smiles. We then saw our first boat in 3 days behind by a mile or so. This turned out to be Pepe, and for the rest of the day we worked hard to keep ahead as we ran towards the bottom corner of the
At Cape Terawhiti, we had Clear Vision in close company too, and Pepe still running hard about half a mile behind but not catching as long as we didn't make any mistakes. Our gybe turned into a mare, as we got into the start of the tide rip. It then became an ugly 5 minute drop with kite half down, Mark hanging onto what he could to stop a prawn trawl and a shortage of hands. Somehow he got it down and back in the boat without further disaster. I was particularly good at offering advice to Mark throughout this move- although I feel it wasn't all that well received from his prone position on the side-deck at the time. It must have looked pretty funny from Clear Vision though! That would have been the end to beating Pepe if the kite had gone in the tide at that stage.
Once cleaned up we looked back with glee to watch Pepe do a big cock up for their turn- and they did a brilliant gybe in pretty hairy conditions- smart little buggers!
From there on we set up for the reach across the south coast, the well named "wind factory", with lots of strong gusts up to 35 knots. We had put the #3 up and were zooming along nicely although a bit overpowered- with Clear Vision beside us, and Pepe struggling in a lot of the bigger puffs and falling well back (welcome to our water, boys!)
Clear Vision rounded the Barretts Reef buoy about 200m ahead of us. We had tucked a reef in the main as we approached and now had a perfect set up for the 25knot northerly (gosh, how lucky!) we sailed really fast and well up here and were soon ahead of CV. From there we extended, and really enjoyed the last couple of miles as we freed off towards the finish- even shaking out the reef so we didn't look like pussies at the line!
The reception from the local boats out on the water was really neat too, and we really enjoyed the yahoos for a nearly local boat. Thanks Gucci and co!
We crossed the line at 1909 to the sound of the gun for line honours in division 4 again. What a great feeling after 5 days and 9 hours of mostly upwind sailing, and the sun was even shining! I can confirm the rums at Port Nich tasted real good that night.
Withdrawal and Follow up
On arrival in
With this news and after reasoning that the weather for the next legs was not too flash and that enough time off work was going to become a problem, the decision was made to retire from the race, while we were in
The following Wednesday, Ellen and Peter returned to
But we were joined by a huge pod of dolphins for ages, which was pretty special.
We had a huge array of friends and supporters that helped with this campaign. Thank you all- did you know that it wouldn't work so well without you!
A big thank you to John Henderson from
To Ellen Bailey and Chris Webb, mates and delivery crew- thank you so much, (and we all know lots more about catching marlin after our detour into Tutukaka!)
And finally our families (Sally, next time it is northerly down the west coast okay)
Partners (Jenny and Sue, thank you for letting us go and play in boats- one day we might get the new carpet at home eh Jen!)
To the guys at SSANZ, what a great challenging event you put on. After seeing the efforts you all put in at Napier, I think the sailing might be the easier bit at times.
After 2008, I said never again, and we were back. While 3 years is a long time away- don't be surprised to see Nonstop back next time for a whole new challenge.
Owner/Skipper- March 2011