Norseman II's B&G Simrad 50 2011 report
20 Jul 2011
Norseman II B&G Simrad 50
What a great start to the 2011 Simrad series! It was good to start in some sun and in a light sou-westerly that promised to build before too long (though longer than we expected). We followed the cue from the Longhaul and Shorthaul starts and went for the pin at that start, initially we were getting blanketed by boats above us but eventually the more northerly course to Browns Island seemed to pay off with a touch more breeze ?offshore?. But after Navy Buoy things became a bit of a lottery as one by one boats had a turn at threatening to be the one to bring the new breeze down. We began to wonder if the race would turn out to be a repeat of last year - after all the anticipation, the idea of another drifter, in the face of a seemingly solid forecast, was hard to contemplate! We stuck to a low course, but not low enough - Aquaholic, seemingly buried at Navy, sailed well down and bought the new breeze into the bigger boats who were struggling along the Motuihe shore. We had some time to admire the seemingly neverending length of the graceful O?Sinnerman as she glided past and hoped for a chance to gybe once she was past to get into the shoreline. We eventually managed to get in a very tight gybe to duck a few sterns so that we could get across to southern shore ASAP, then did a few gybes to stay in a narrow breeze line that seemed to be sticking close to the beach and got through Sergeant Channel just behind Phocena, who came out of the chaos extremely well, and Bays Flyer, who were making great use of their masthead kite. This gave us an unexpected front row seat for the Smallboat fleet, and it wasn?t long into the next leg to Haystack before the new breeze started to kick in ? time to ease the pole forward to drop mainsheet as we came into the Motuihe Channel proper.
With the breeze picking up we got the boat flying, relatively speaking, but Aquaholic was close astern and seemed to climb higher than us, as did Bays Flyer. Elliott Energy came past us somewhere near Rakino in blast of spray, quickly followed by PE, looking like a big Cherub ? carrying a small kite on a prod and looking like a lot of fun. I would have grabbed the camera but things were getting a bit tight at that stage, with the odd shake of the rig as the kite threatened to take over in some of the bigger gusts. It?s pretty important to predict the gusts in the Tracker as the rudder (i.e. trim tab) doesn?t give too many options if the round up has already started. We were on our toes all the way across, and had to drop the kite slightly earlier than we would have liked before we got too low on course. We?d changed to the no.2 on the reach before Haystack for the beat, which was a good call for us and offset the effect of the main becoming ever deeper as the breeze gets up. We soon tacked into the Rakino shore and then stayed tight around the Motutapu shore to stay out of the still ebbing tide and to find flatter water. Various bigger boats in the Smallboat division soon started working past us, the Davidson 28s were chomping particularly well, but PE was now looking a little overpowered. We exchanged a few tacks with the 727s but it was a bit of a lost cause, they wore us down and looked really comfortable and fast under in blade jib conditions. We kept a good margin on the Trackers behind us, who had opted for no.1s (Aquaholic changing up from their no.2 off Rangitoto). We went for a change in the Rangitoto Channel during a bit of a lull but no sooner were got all the lugs on and lazy sheet set up for a hoist/tack, the new breeze and rain arrived and the now wet and unwieldy sail had to be dumped downstairs again. Comfortably Numb looked like they were holding a solid second after Aquaholic?s sail change, but eventually lost out to them and to Novamech at the finish. We managed to save enough time to just edge out Aquaholic for the win on corrected time.
Thanks SSANZ for such great organisation and for getting the results up so quickly. We?re looking forward to the longer stretch out to Gannet for the next one.