Pepe's B&G Simrad 100 2013 report
12 Aug 2013
After the debacle at the start of the last race I noticed the race committee had wisely laid the line with a heavy bias to the pin end to avoid another pile up at the committee boat.
We opted for a leeward pin end start and got away cleanly with a good start below but advanced on the fleet. We had the fractional code zero (FRO) set and were a bit underpowered but had done this deliberately so we could do an easy peal to the masthead gennaker through Motuihe passage. We actually peeled to the masthead gennaker slightly earlier than I had though just after Islington beacon and sailed through the passage with a nice angle. The breeze then went right forward and we struggled to lay the next point but just got around and then peeled to the masthead spinnaker for the run down to tiri. I thought that if the breeze was currently the most ?right hand? that it would be there was a chance it was going to swing back to the left (east) so I wanted to get a gybe in early, it also looked light under rakino so I wanted to avoid that. We were the first to gybe and carried on for about 10min then gybed back. We seemed to make a small gain out of that so decided we would want to be the first to gybe back to port further down and be inside on the left hand turn to Motuora. We did our gybe about halfway down, At first it looked good but once we gybed back Shreks house and pawn broker had made a small gain, hard to tell if they were just faster as the breeze had built slightly to around 10-14kts or if we had actually lost out. Pawn broker was definitely slightly quicker and rounded Motuora first. Us and Shreks house went around together and had a good little battle down the island under tight kites both dropping together and beam reaching towards Flat rock in around 15-18kts of breeze. We had the Fractional Zero(FRO) on which seemed to be working well and we slowly crept away from Shreks house and started gaining on pawn broker who were about 2-300m in front. It was pretty lumpy at flat rock but nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. We went around there a few minutes behind pawn broker with shreks house about the same back from us and all sheeted on for the long beat to Shag island. My plan was always to go right anticipating a eventual and gradual right hand shift and I wanted to be inside the turn. It took us a long time to get into the groove and shreks house slowly overtook us. I was still learning the boat and what makes it go and it seemed with to struggle with the big squaretop main when you were overpowered, easing the sheet then gave lee helm so we took a reef and suddenly the boat was off and felt good. Lesson learnt, only blowing 16-20 but with a bit of a seaway the reef was certainly a gain. We had lost around 300m going slow before that and the Pawn Broker had really sailed away from us. They were Very fast upwind, I think they have water ballast which would have helped a lot to and its a very powerfull boat. We knew we would not catch them but they give us a fair bit of time on handicap so I was not too worried. We carried on way to far on starboard heading towards Corromandel, partly due to mucking around getting the boat in the groove and partly due to a tactical/nav blunder (visibility very low and thinking we were pointing higher than we actually were) but eventually tacked onto port and almost straight away got a 20 degree right hand shift- not ideal.... We lost a bit of time to the right hand boats but not drastic and I felt we needed to cut our losses and get back right so carried on and tacked inside them but still under the lay for Waiheke setting up for more right hand pressure. We tacked just before tiri island. Slowly the breeze clocked right and the last part was an easy lay and being able to press on it slightly. I always wanted to be in close to hooks bay and the waiheke shore as I thought the breeze would be coming straight out of the firth of thames but with big right handers out of the bays along waiheke shore and a right hand breeze out of Waiheke channel meaning you could lose a huge amount if not in close. I think that was right, it was hard to tell in the dark but I did see a few boats further out that were low and had to tack back to shag, where as we actually eased sheets into shag and tacked right on the island. That section along waiheke shore was pretty uncomfortable with a very lumpy sea and some big puffs coming off the shore. Probably still under 22kts breeze but wind against tide. We decided to set the fractional gennaker for the leg back down to Thumb point which was the wrong call initially as the breeze had lightened but I think it worked out Ok as it tightened up and we carried it right across hooks bay and peeled to the FR0 for the reach across to rakino. Our wind gear had died long before but I guess the wind was around 16-18kts and 60-70TWA. A reefed main and FRO seemed to be working well and we caught up a big cruiser in front and extended from the chasing pack of boats. The breeze slowly headed and built and we were quite overpowered, in hind sight we should have gone back to a outboard sheeted jib earlier but hung in with the FRO maybe a bit too long. Dropped that and went back to the jib under Rakino and set up for the beat to Rangi light, at this stage the wind was probably around 16kts. We had both the hanse 40s steadily gaining on us on the reach and now starting to mow us down, its always disheartening to have boats gaining from behind but once we worked out who it was we were pretty happy, they seemed to be having a really great close race exchanging tacks and never more than a few boat lengths apart. It was good to watch in the middle of the night after a long race, they quickly sailed away from us. The tide was just about to turn and start coming out so I thought the rangi shore would be the best, we chucked a few tacks in left and came out right on rangi light and tacked into the harbour. I think this was good but it was hard to tell with no one around us. We laid right through just above bean rock and went right inshore out of the tide which was starting to flow pretty strong now. From there we laid into the finish. We knew we had gone OK against the rest of our fleet but were not sure how far ahead Pawn Broker was. Final results have us 2nd on line and 1st on handicap. A good result which puts us first in our division with a 1st and 2nd.
For me the notable performer in our fleet was Damon on the Motorboat once again. It was a big boat race and they sailed very well to take a 3rd. Now we are only 1 point ahead of them in the series, its all on for the last race!
Not sure if I still want to lend him my big kite for the last race now.....
Massive thanks to the SSANZ team who had a very late night on the committee boat.