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Coastal Classic 2014 - Friday 24th October

posted Nov 2, 2014, 12:54 PM by Admin hycnz   [ updated Nov 2, 2014, 1:01 PM ]
Race Report from Firsty

Friday started with showers and a good breeze. A bit more than forecast earlier in the week. We were starting first for a change at 09:30 instead of the usual 10:20 start that we have had in the past. That should allow us to see the multis and big boats come past at some time in the race. On board were Tim, Bruce, Wayne, Blair, Kelvin and Craig.

We started with the No1 Masthead Shute in the middle of the line and off to a reasonable start with clear air and my mates on Pacific Sundance beside us. Held out from gybing where we wanted we finally gybed for the run down Rangitoto Channel.

We were looking OK although well pressed. We were trying to make a little ground to give us some sea room to run away in the gusts until after a few broaches we were regretting the masthead and wishing we had run the No2. Never mind, press on and try to get around Rangi light. We managed to get around without having to drop the masthead so we could ease sheets a little and settle in to the race.

Look out! Here comes Vodaphone! Blink and you would've missed her as she came screaming past with the main hull only just in the water in a shower of spray. Thanks for passing to leeward!! Shortly after Beau Geste screams past to leeward as well, looking Gucci cool. How big is that Code Zero?

The run to Tiri allowed us to free up a little and try to pass closer to Tiri to avoid the wind shadow from Whangaparaoa. Steinlager slips quickly by to leewarad with Blairs sister Raynor on the wheel.

By Kawau Is the wind speed was up around 25 - 27 knots and gusty proving too much for the Masthead Kite, so we cut back to the Gennaker which we were handling nicely as the apparent wind came forward with the slight change of course.

The Gennaker gave us a course to leeward of the Hen & Chicks, so it looks as though that is the way that we will go. Sometime after Bream Tail the wind strength and direction was too much for the Gennaker so we dropped down to the Jib Top (Jack) Reacher, then to a reefed main, then to No3 with reefed main.

By Tutukaka the wind dropped enough to hoist Jack Reacher with full main. We were trying to keep off the land to try avoid the light patches and were about 5 miles off the land as we went past Tutukaka.

We kept well offshore then headed up for Cape Brett being one of the most leeward boats coming in to the Cape. Now casting was indicating very light wind at Cape Brett so the call was made to get the No 1 light up on deck ready for the beat into the Bay. True to form as we went through between Cape Brett and Piercy Is, the wind dropped away to nothing so up went the No1 Light. We hardened up to get on course for Red Head. We were just able to lay Whale Rock off the end of the Red Head.

We picked up a couple of places here and could see the lights of the boats ahead getting closer. Past Red Head the wind veered a bit which put it right on the nose for Tapeka Point. With Blair on the helm we picked up several scalps pretty quickly and picked up a few more with the advantage of starboard tack putting several boats about. This continued from Tapeka up the river to the finish at Russell.

We passed the line at 01:44 the earliest I have ever arrived on the coastal after more than 20 races. We anchored in the bay to enjoy a well earned Beer and a few Rums. Time at Flat Rock was  was 12:15, Sail Rock 15:33, Cape Brett 22:46 and finish at 01:44 so a quick run up the coast thanks to the hard work of the crew.

Race report from Colin Rickett - Urban Cowboy

It took me an hour to get to Westhaven on Friday morning, so I was late, copped abuse, told to "Get on the f@$#ing boat, we are leaving" and so threw my bag aboard and we were off - barely time to say goodbye to the beloved. Quick stowing of gear, plugging in of cell phone, starting up of Tracker app and then back on deck for a quick nod of the head and an "Oh well, here we go again". On Tuesday at the tactics briefing the discussion had all been about how to cope in light airs with a suggestion that Predictwind routing had shown a Farr 1020 could expect to take 17 hours. A quick glance around the boat - No 3 Jib on deck and reefing lines in confirmed that things had changed and wind would not be an issue. Ah well, been there before - shute or gennaker, gennaker or shute dominates the conversation going down the harbour. Almost at the start boat for the compulsory check-in and the engine quits and wont start. Rapid hoist of the main and we sail towards the start boat while those that know about enginey things attempt a diagnosis, with fuel supply as the main suspect. Urban's fuel system is a little complex in that the keel fin is actually the fuel tank and so there is a couple of pumps and quite a bit of plumbing that all needs to work together to make the engine go. 

On the way to check in Firsty appears alongside for a quick exchange of best wishes. After checking in we feather the boat in towards Mechanics Bay, trying to keep it upright so the guys below can sort the engine problem - which they do - a fuel line has managed to jump out of its slot and get itself squeezed closed between a frame and a floorboard. Then, with engine running, its a quick drop of the main to re-tie the top 3 battens - the main was delivered back from Norths only yesterday and they have set the battens in anticipation of light airs. During this process Starlight Express passes, going towards the start line, with Hobsonville Burgee proudly flying. Main back up and its time to get serious, line up and we are away - full main and masthead gennaker for the sprint to North Head and what proves to be the only gybe in the race.

 We briefly discuss a change to a spinnaker but there is too much West in the wind and so off we go. Past Rangi Light with speeds often in the 12 - 14 knot range and, for a little while, all three Ross 40's in the race are in line abreast with Marshal Law close enough to talk to. First helmsman change happens about 2 hours in and we are still holding similar speeds with the odd burst to 16 knots (if memory serves me correctly we topped out at 17.1 somewhere on the course). We pass between Kawau and Flat Rock, now down to a fractional Gennaker, and decide to just let the boat go north as fast as possible and not worry too much about our east-west position - the wind is supposed to go south later in the race after all. We have a great time driving over the top of waves at 12-13, driving down the face into the 14's and up over the next one. The speedo stays in the 13s and 14s for extended periods. We are having a ball. Out comes the Lolly Cake and the Rocky Road. Before every Coastal Sharon Illingworth, whose husband Beaky sails on Wired, drops us off a container of the above so we can get a sugar fix somewhere up the track - its a tradition. 

We end up a couple of miles outside of the Hen and Chicks and start thinking about when to start climbing to the Brett. We still have 50 miles to play with though and so we let the boat run for a while longer and we eat up the miles. About half way between the Chicks and the Pinnacles (southern part of the poor knights) and pointing directly at the Pinnacles, we decide its time to reclaim some Westerly ground and so harden up a little. If anything the wind has grunted up a bit and now we have our hands full keeping the boat on its feet. We spin out a couple of times but continue to push until we round up once too often and the gennaker flicks the sheet off. The madly thrashing sail trashes the casing on the halyard which makes the sail difficult to drop. Somewhere in the process it tears and proves to be beyond the realm of sticky-back so we are down one fractional halyard and one fractional gennaker. We reach into the Brett with the No 3 and, for a while, a slab in the main. Speed is down to high 9s and 10s with an occasional 12 but we are still doing ok. We have hot dogs and a coffee. 10 miles from the Brett the night time helmsman and main trimmer (me) go below. I get into night kit - dry socks, sea boots and an extra layer of polar fleece - and then burrow into the port quarter-berth among the gear bags and doze off.

 Back on deck for the rounding - sunset is officially 7.44pm and we are round by 8.15pm - still enough light to see Bird Rock and to line up Red Head. Then it is a reasonably straight forward beat into the finish in a dying breeze with a long tack on port and a short on starboard. We will debate for ages how well we managed this phase of the race and whether we made the best use of all the resources at our disposal. In my view we did ok. We were passed by one boat only, almost in sight of the finish. Unfortunately it happened to be Provincial Cowboy - one of the other Ross 40s in the race. She had been in sight for the whole race but we thought the gap we had at the Brett would be enough. Provincial is configured differently to us - she has overlapping genoas - and is certainly quicker up wind in the light. Ah well, that is yachting. To be that close together after all that time is certainly good racing. 

We cross the line at 11.15, raft up alongside Starlight Express and start the inevitable party. We will debate for ages how well we managed this phase of the race - I am a follower of the 'what happens on the boat stays on the boat' rule and so, happily, have nothing to report. And thats about it - fast trip, great fun, would like to have finished further up in the standings but this was one for the bigger boats. Spent the rest of the weekend at the bach. Now thinking about what next.

Starlight Express report

The race started for us at the Clearwater Cove bar. I was invited down to meet some of the other club members following the Wednesday Night club race.
After a quick presentation of a HYC race pennant (thank you very much) Colin Rickett soon zero'd in to start the banter. Fortunately I was accompanied by one of my crew and at least had a bit of moral support.
After listening to Colin (apparently the HYC club match racing champion) explain how his boat Urban Cowboy was setting up to nail this race given the conditions were stacking up in his favour we left the bar that night thinking the only thing we were racing for was to beat Urban Cowboy to the mooring in Russell that was kindly lent to us by Craig (Westpark Chandlery).
Friday morning roles around and the conditions are near perfect for a quick ride, although tough for Starlight Express to do well on handicap as we favour the breeze forward of the beam or dead aft. The race committee had a moment of brilliance when they decided to reverse the starting sequence and sent the smaller boats off first, what followed was a brilliant sail through the rest of the fleet.
The plan at the start was to favour the Devonport end of the line, pop the kite with a Starboard Pole, our start was near perfect with the only boat able to cause us any grief was the big Red Steinlarger II. Jousting for position we managed to sneak across in front of her just before we reached North head, gybed, then set up for a day of fast sailing many rail squatting.
First challenge, get inside Rangi light under masthead kite without gibing, close, but managed enough soak to do it. Problem though, no one was paying attention to the most important detail of our prep talk " keep an eye on Urban Cowboy, I want to know where she is at all times". Rangitoto light and no one knows where she is. Bugger, all we can do now is sail fast.
Kawau Island within 2 hours - awesome
Sail rock is the next landmark. We were tracking outside the Hen and Chicks trying to catch a red kite in front of us thinking it could be Urban when it dawned on us that Team Vodafone was most likely relaxing at the bar now. Sail rock in record time.
By the hen and chicks we caught the red spinnaker, a bloody Ross 930. They were hanging on and having the ride of their lives, more out of the water than in, they were flying. However, a Ross 930? This did not feel good for the challenge set down by Urban, where the heck would they be if we were just passing this thing. Panic set in. "We need more speed".
Off Tutukaka now with a fractional gennaker up and flying, although 10-15 degrees off course. We could see a nasty weather pattern coming at us from inshore, decision time. We dropped the gennaker, headed high toward the shore, ended up being a good call, we put distance and height on the boats around us, one of which was the other whitbread representative Lion NZ. Squall went through, up went the gennaker again and we were off, in a great position and smoking directly at Cape Brett. Then, bugger, our lovely blue gennaker was in pieces. The crew work was brilliant though, gennaker down, headsail up and were flying along again (albeit 1 1/2 knots slower) in no time at all, and without a drop of beer being spilt.
Approximately 8:30 pm and we are rounding Cape Brett, we are on track for our record time. Cape Brett always throws a few challenges, the winds do strange things here. However, we had a plan, stuck to it, and nailed it. We got through the massive wind shadow and came out the other side high and fast, this transformed into massive gains on the boats we could see, could one of those lights we are catching be the Urban Cowboy?
Beating in relatively light winds to the finish line at Russell, this is where Starlight Express is in her element. Record time in sight, finish line in sight, Urban Cowboy is where?
Finished, 9.48pm a record. Always good to finish the race the same day you start, even better to finish within 12 hours.
But the delights were just beginning, Urban Cowboy was not there. Victory was ours.
We found the mooring (thanks Craig) secured the boat and hung the fenders over the side to welcome the Urban boys in, possibly the dumbest decision of the weekend.
This was my 16th Coastal Classic race, all in a row. And by far one of the most enjoyable. If you haven't done this race yet I would thoroughly recommend you give it a go.

Mike Wilson
Starlight Express

Ps. Congratulations Colin and the team on Urban Cowboy. Great race.