Provincial Cowboys Bay Week
If you haven’t done one of these you should. New Zealand’s bay of islands is right up there with Antigua or The Whitsundays in terms of incredible sailing waters.
Provincial Cowboy a 30 year old Ross 40 won this series 2 years ago and has had a few more successes since. As a result of this we were given the same handicap as the Farr 55 Cotton Blossom and the 44 foot Elliot tourer Fiction, both big fast boats. We gave time to our sister ship Urban Cowboy.
At 40 feet ( smallest waterline length with Urban) and the second smallest handicap, sailing to our handicap this year was always going to be a challenge!!
Out around Roberton Island, where we were blessed with a small park up. Good management from the brains trust meant we managed to get the inside lift on the park up, then a lay through to Ninepin (Tikitiki island) with the code zero up. At Ninepin we were sitting just behind Fiction and the big Elliott Bullrush. We were also level with Cotton Blossom, then there was a big gap to the next boats. A light downwind to Motuterahiki island meant we could drift gybe through the fleet where we picked up Fiction, Bullrush and a couple of others.
We then had a lay back to Roberton island, followed by a kite run to the finish where we worked hard to maintain position against the larger boats. Overall we were pretty happy with a 3rd on handicap for this race.
Some sore heads this morning after a couple of rum bottles “evaporated” last night. The delay waiting for the sea breeze to kick in was appreciated!
At 1pm the breeze went from zero to 12 knots and under full main and number 2 we were off! First leg was a 12 mile beat to Ninepin ( Tikitiki island). A left shift straight after our pin end start meant we were on the back foot right from the start. Slowly we made gains back into Urban Cowboy and the others up to black rocks, then across to the northern coast. Then Urban managed to get a really nice lift into Ninepin, while we were stuck on a knocking tack. We were the last boat in our division around Ninepin L.
The 6 mile light reach back to Motukiekie island was always going to be a waterline length contest which we would never win. We kept in touch and worked on rehydrating.
Gybing around the reef off Motukiekie island we worked hard on keeping in the pressure and picking up as much as possible. We finished off with a peel from the A1 to the code zero to get around Tapeka point and then to the masthead kite to the finish.
We managed to get with ½ a metre of beating Cotton Blossom at the finish line but 7th on handicap meant we were probably out of contention for the series now.
Urban Cowboy finished 2 minutes ahead of us and took the race. Well done boys!!
A slightly quieter night meant the heads weren’t quite as sore this morning. Today there was a 2 hour wait for wind meaning a short course around Roberton island and Motukiekie island , then back home.
At around 2 pm a light sea breeze kicked in at around 9 knots. A dip line start meant it was fast and furious off the start with boats coming from all direction. A couple of quick tacks had us in good shape off the line to Tapeka point. We got a great lane off Tapeka going high and fast in 8 knots of breeze. This meant we could gas Fiction, Urban Cowboy and Cotton Blossom. Bullrush and the other boats to leeward. The wind lightened off after Roberton island and the whole fleet compressed and started short tacking on the shifts. The trick here was to balance the tide relief with the lighter breeze going inshore.
We got around Motukiekie island in good shape and peeled to the flat dragon kite. Then it was a case of trying to stay in a lane of pressure next to the island cliffs which we did pretty successfully!
Close racing to the finish with Wedgetail, Fiction and Urban meant another 3rd on handicap for us. Happy lads!
All in all an awesome three days racing with 11 other similar boats. Well done to Omega, Bullrush and Alegra for the first three places. We were pretty happy with a 4th for the series all things considered.
Series Results [PHRF] up to Race 3
Cotton Blossom 2
Mark Edwards Brian P