2012 SSANZ B&G Simrad 100 Romany II's race report
11 Sep 2012
Romany II Simrad 100.
Sometimes you just wish people would keep their mouths shut. After the Simrad 50 Race, I recall Fendall Halliburton complaining about the lack of proper Simrad racing. He did not get his wish for Simrad 60, but I think the Simrad 100 this year had enough interest weather-wise to satisfy Fendall?s wishes. In particular, it looked like there would be bigger waves than usual.
Tony and I always look forward to the Races, and this was no different. We knew there would be some bigger waves, especially if we did Shorthaul course 1 round little Barrier. As it happened, Course 2 was the call.
We started behind a number of boats tight against the inner distance mark. It was messy just in front of us, and we slowed a little to enable the log-jam to clear, but were happy to be high line away from the start.
We are still experimenting with ways to sail our boat. We ought to be quicker than we are, and the majority of the problem here is with the skipper and sail trimmer. I just really have not figured out the best way to trim and sail the boat yet. I had some good advice before the start from Jono Gravitt on the Farr 1104 Revolution. He kindly motored behind us as we sailed uphill and gave us feedback on what he thought would be a better setup, with sail much flatter than we started with. Thanks for the kind assistance Jono, it was good to have eyes off the boat looking at the setup.
Anyway, we decided to sail the boat for speed rather than height on this race. We raced with our #2 and full main, but during the beat, we did take a reef in about 10:30, as the wind was up slightly and it made the waves easier to handle. We did not lose any speed or height with this.
We had planned to go to the rightside up the beat during the morning as we had expectations (from Predict Wind and Windfinder) that the wind would shift right around 11:30 to 12 noon. As it happened, this did not work very well for us, so we arrived at Tiri about 100m behind our old mates on Communique. We hit the right again after Tiri, and eventually the wind did move right, about an hour later than we had hoped for, but we were furthest right and got the most advantage from the shift.
We eventually ended up at Motuora crossing about 80m ahead of Communique this time, so we were going no worse than usual, but not really better either, as the wind had moved in our favour to make that gain.
The ride to Flat Rock was a fast 2-sail reach. We had 1 reef and our #2 and were going really well like this, slightly over-powered all the way. We saw a few MUCH bigger than usual waves as we got closer to Flat Rock, and soon after we rounded it, we had a few of the biggest waves I have personally seen out there. I seriously believe that a couple of them were in the order of 5m or more, as the general wave height we were seeing was about 1.5m to 3m. We hit the highest speed we have recorded down one of these waves, our GPS showing 16.8 knots, but there may be a little exaggeration by the instrument.
From Flat Rock we were initially well powered, and the breeze was forecast to get stronger, so we held on to the 1 reef while it was blowing hard, but the wind faded after a little while so we were no longer quick enough to catch the waves well. We STILL expected more wind, so held on for quite a long time before finally deciding to shake out the reef.
We were better like this, but the breeze was shifting slightly left (more aft) so we decided to pole out the #2 until we could see what the wind was going to do. It was very rock and roll out there, so like a good person I clipped onto the jackstays as soon as I left the cockpit, and stayed clipped on till I was back there again.
With our focus on getting the sail poled out and working, we spent as lot of time looking forwards, so were surprised by the sudden wind change to the right which resulted in an involuntary gybe. It was noisy, but no harm done, and then the rain bucketed down. That was quite a wet squall, and while the wind gust did not seem very strong to us, it must have been fairly interesting for some of those who had kites up when that change happened.
After the rain, we kept going on starboard gybe towards Tarahiki island until we were sure the wind was fairly settled, then put our kite up. We were a bit late with this move, and also had to run a bit deep, so it was NOT a pleasant sail down that line with the waves rolling the boat about all the time.
We put the kite away a bit early as it was tending towards darkness and we thought we may have to gybe to round the island to Starboard. Bit of a slow rounding but no real harm here. It was still raining, but as we beat up northwards in the Firth of Thames, the rain stopped before too long.
This beat in the Firth of Thames was a bit rough, as it was really dark so we could not see the waves until we crashed over them. Fortunately most of the time was not too bad. We sailed till we thought we would clear Waiheke, then made a long leg from there till we were past Oneroa, hoping for a friendly little left-hander to arrive. We did actually get a small bit of help there, and lee-bowing the tide may have been some help too. We made one more beat leg up towards the big Noisy, then a single tack across to clear Rakino. The reach from Rakino to the finish was straightforward and quite pleasant, and we finished about 10 minutes after midnight.
This was not a tough race for us. The boat handled everything quite easily, comfortably and politely. We never had any really hair-raising moments. I imagine those with kites up when the big gusts and changes came through would possibly have had some entertainment, but for us conservative types, there really was nothing scarier than a couple of very big waves and one gentle round-up on the downhill. The wind was not big for most of the time, I don't think it was over 30 knots very often or foir very long, and would estimate that we sailed most of the day in an average wind speed of just over 20 knots. We were very fortunate that the bigger than usual waves weren't really a problem on our course. Also it did not rain that much, and was not cold.
We had another day of slight disppointment with our performance against the other yachts, but a lot of the time difference between us and our competitors is down to some over-conservative sailing on our part, and a couple of poor choices, though we did also make some very good picks. The biggest factor is still our ineffective windward work.
Yesterday we were basically making tacks through 80 degrees instead of 90, but we were travelling fast. Previously we have been tacking through 90 degrees, but going slow. Perhaps we will find that tacking through 85 degrees and going at medium speed will be the magic angle for our setup.
I will continue to seek advice and work on the trim and sailing skills. We will find the best mix of speed and height for our boat, and then we will be happy with THAT performance. It is a really excellent cruising boat, and that is our principle reason for having the yacht.
Despite wishing we were faster (and who doesn't) we had a great time. Tony is an wonderful crew. He is calm, strong, skilful and enthusiastic, and we just love doing the Simrad series together, during which we share the helming of the boat. While we want to be quicker, there is still the sheer joy of simply being on a sailing boat. Add to that the beauty of the wind, the sky and the sea, and the Hauraki Gulf with all its islands and wild-life (we saw lots of dolphins during the race). What's not to love? Add in a bit of a challenge from the weather on occasion, and it's all good.
Thanks for the racing SSANZ, and the usual excellent job of getting the results out quickly