A much better forecast for the 60 miler. Could do without another day of rain - the 50 was pretty wet. Quite a few improvements made to the boat since the first race = we are almost through the "must do's" but there's still a long list of "nice to have"s to work through.
Andy spent much of the week in bed with the nasty flu that has been hanging around - and once you catch it never seems to quite go away. By Thursday he thought he was pretty marginal to sail so I made some calls to some of our regulars find a back-up crew. It's amazing how many people actually have a life, were not waiting by the hone, and/or had already made plans for a weekend more than 2 days out - visiting parents, newborn babies etc etc. Most inconvenient. Anyway, thanks to Carl Syman who was on standby but not required in the end.
Quite nicely set for the start but then we had an issue with the sock on the gennaker. Bugger, 30 seconds late crossing the line. Still, better than Race 1. Almost immediately the breeze filled and knocked us which we figured was going to cause a problem with clearing the Illiomama Pole, which marking some rocks we very nearly had a previous relationship with a few years back so were very aware of. Pretty Boy Floyd had a similar problem down to leeward and there were probably others. After trying to work higher (for too long) we decided to shed the gennaker as it became clear we weren't going to make it. Bugger.
Getting the sail socked up proved to be another drama and so between that and a couple of mini round-ups we lost quite a bit of ground on the fleet here. Once we got rid of the gennaker and were back to reaching under number 2, Andy was knackered and needed a breather. The leaders had shot away and we were to leeward of Marshall Law providing them a great photo opportunity. We stayed that way down through the Waiheke Channel - didn't make any inroads at all it seemed. Most chose the inshore track which we chose to stay a bit further offshore. Not much in it until the inshore group got a nice breeze out of Onetangi and pulled ahead - it never seemed to quite get to us, a couple of hundred metres out. Another lesson for next time!
At Kauri Point we were almost 5 minutes behind a bunch including Craig on Marshall, Fineline and Spearhead with another group a similar distance ahead of them it seemed. The breeze went a bit funky around the corner with the current kicking up a big chop to punch into and some gusts from ahead and behind. We set up with plenty of twist and got the boat going nicely, getting a bit of height on the bunch ahead and then coming forward on them really quickly. Out into the solid breeze, we rolled over Marshall Law, FIneline and a couple of others. We came up to Bizarre who was in high mode and since we were on a knock we tacked toward the west - the boat felt pretty good in the solid breeze and when we came back to cross the bunch a few minutes later we had made a nice gain. Up ahead we could see a few boats and despite not doing anything too flash we seemed to reel them in towards the top - especially Marilyn and Gale Force who seemed to get tangled up in a precarious position close to the Shag Rock shore. Marilyn was last seen heading back to Auckland. Urban Cowboy crossed just ahead but we lost ground tacking away to staywell clear of the reef.
Nearing Shag we had once again discussed which downwind sail and went for the FRO due to the angle and what we thought might build to stronger breeze - sadly another wrong call as the breeze actually seemed to have eased a bit and we only rarely got powered up on the leg down to Gannet. Watched Phil come past in Wild Oats looking good. All the time we could see what looked like strong breeze lines up ahead so held off changing but it never amounted to much so we eventually lost heaps on the boats ahead like Urban Cowboy which quickly slipped away under a gennaker. Galeforce came back up to us looking nicely powered up.
After Gannet we changed from the FRO back to the number 2 for the 17 mile reach to Navy Buoy. We slowly pulled away from the boats behind and the guys ahead seemed to stretch a bit too - perhaps the wind backing and a bit of tide assistance elongating the fleet. So it was a bit boring without any company to pace ourselves against.
It was the same story for the 7 miles back to Haystack, a long beam reach and no company. We rounded Haystack about 13 minutes behind a bunch including Zealous, sistership Urban Cowboy and Whitebait and a few minutes in front of a bunch including our other sistership Marshall Law.
Then a long beat back up to Rangitoto Light. Pretty happy with the pace here - the rig and mainsail looked a lot better than we have seen it before and we seemed to have good speed. We headed straight up on port tack to try to maximise the tide boost into the Rangitoto channel. However up ahead the boats who tacked closer into the Rangitoto shore looked higher so maybe a bad call. But the boats behind us like the Marshall who tacked in seemed to lose.
As the breeze slowly eased the boat seemed to get going really well but again without anyone around us it was hard to know how we were going. A couple of large production boats appeared just ahead and we went past them pretty quickly but not sure what fleet they were in.
Nearing North Head we had to tack a couple more time to wait for a small container ship to come up the channel. A bit annoying but not too costly, just a couple of extra tacks.
Up to the finish line in a rapidly dropping breeze, lovely sail in with flat water with the tide pretty much on the turn. Thank you SSANZ.
After 3 attempts since buying the boat we managed to finish a race! And with nothing broken. 95% of the race went well but other 5% - mainly mistakes with sail selection - cost plenty. Using sails for the first time when you're not sure of optimum angles is not really a good plan. So there is plenty of potential to unlock.
Thanks to Rich Hulston for the rig tune on Friday morning, and Bushy at Norths for the main recut - it all looks 100% better as a result.
We have a lot to learn about sailing the boat, especially 2 up, but really happy with it and enjoying learning a new game.
p.s. Thanks to Craig on Marshall for the photos - sorry we didn't repay the favour.