Motorboat Baltic 50 race report
14 Jul 2014
Motorboat Shorthaul 2
By Josh Tucker (BooBoo)
Really who would have ever thought that this race would have been sailed in a light E-NE breeze, sure the rain was expected but not the breeze.....
Shorthaul 2 and the Y88 fleet starts together which has its positives and negatives, positives of more boats to gauge your performance on but negatives of a busy aggressive startline and traffic.
Anyway, we got a clear start at the right end of the line. With the wind just forward of the bean at about 6kts. We just had the #1 genoa on but had the zero out to the end of the prod and ready to go. Sailormoon was up to weather and close to rolling us, it was light enough that clear air was very important so we worked hard at maintaining our lane. We hoisted the zero for a few minutes which enabled us to just stay clear of sailormoon. When we got the knocking breeze on the other side of Rangi we went back to the headsail but the boat didn?t feel all that good and we slowly got rolled by Sailormoon, after a quick tack to the shore to clear our air and we then got rolled by another Y88. We were struggling to get to our boat speed numbers (both Damon and I have sailed the boats enough to know what speeds an SR26 should be doing!) so did a quick weed check, sure enough there was a big dirty bit of weed wrapped on the keel. We did a quick backup to clear the keel which but put us right back in the pack and we had to work hard to find clear lanes and get back into it. We were very wary of the left hand side of the track as we could envisage an aggressive left hand shift at some stage. Surprisingly the first shift was actually a right hander which got us back into the game. There was getting to be a big split in the fleet with mercenary and grunt machine a long way to the left of us, Rattle, gaucho, no worries, entertainer and a few others to the right. We had decided early on that our best strategy was to just play the fleet and not the sides. Make sure we don?t give too much leverage to the competition as the breeze really could do absolutely anything at anytime.... You might lose occasionally to a boat on the fringe of the course but long term it was about minimising loss. Giving that theory we had to keep a loose cover on the right hand side of the course where most of our competition was. This gave good leverage to the left hand boats and sure enough the next shift was a BIG left hander giving them a gain. We were in the middle of the track lifting hard on port tack heading towards Rakino island. We thought about banging back into it as there was still more left hand pressure on the left side of the track but would have consolidated a huge loss so we just kept going and be patient. This was a good move as we lifted right up to the noiseys and laid right through on port. The boats below us suffered quite hard as they got the shift much latter and were below the lay having to take a punishing tack back.
From there to the Ahaahaa?s it was painfull sailing. The wind lightened off and went forward, then the seaway turned huge and sloppy. We tried the code zero but with that seaway it just didn?t work so we went back to the genoa and concentrated hard. I lay on the floor below to keep the weight centred and low while Damon tried to extract whatever speed he could out of the boat. Eventually we just sneaked around the Ahaahaa?s with little room to spare and next to war machine who were having a great race. We went for the masthead gennaker for the leg from there to Waiheke. This is a 15+ year old sail and very big and baggy, not that ideal for the tight reach but at least we were powered up! We got about halfway before having to drop it and 2 sail the rest of the way then upwind for the last bit.
At the bottom of Waiheke the boat felt a bit sticky again so we did another backup and the Motorboat felt like a weapon once again. We could see the boats in Tamaki straight were all well lifted in more left hand breeze so we wanted to be inside that shift. We were the only boat to bang back hard inshore a few times to come out almost right on the point but staying out enough to be in the incoming current that flows in an easterly direction through Tamaki Straight (opposite to what you might think). It seems to me that you always want to be on the inside of any corner. You could see the river of current going with us pushing against the breeze causing a short sharp chop. We short tacked in the tide lines a few times and made some gains. The wind was steadily building and we had around 14kts, certainly top end of the #1 genoa while 2 handed. The last part of the beat we were ragging the main hard and pretty overpowered but it was not worth a headsail change. Sailor moon banged hard right and had benefited by a substantial right hand shift that had all of us overlaid into rocky bay bouy. We lumped it to the mark and hoisted the big kite for the run home. Our plan of each taking a full kit of dry clothes paid off as we both got changed and felt fresh and ready to go. Nothing worse than being completely cold and sodden. The run to the finish was a nice way to end the day, happy hour and the soundcheck playlist cranking on the stereo as the sun went down. A few gybes to avoid tide lines and maximise small windshifts in the lightening breeze. From browns island to bean rock was very light, it went aft quite dramatically and we did well out of an early soak when the breeze was further forward and had a better angle into bean rock.
We finished at 6:22 and got the gun for Shorthaul 2. We had a feeling that it was going to be a rich get richer situation here with the tide about to turn and the wind shutting down but were stoked to see the final handicap results with a win on corrected time by almost an hour.
We had drunk way too much and had the stereo cranked up loud for the whole race. Good times aboard the Motorboat and a rum fest that went well into the night. Luckily we managed to drag a few other crews down with us....
As usual the boat was immaculately prepared by Damon.
Big thanks to the SSANZ team and other volunteers on the Comittee boat for spending a day and night in the rain so we could go out and have fun.
Bring on the next race.