Sail, Sail, Sail
It feels like an eternity between the Mr. R. events so the only natural thing to do to fill the time is to do more sailing. This weekend past I went on a short passage up the coast from Sydney to Bird Island, which is just south of Newcastle.
It was a great night with a slight sea and a 10-15 knot breeze. It was a dark and clear night so the stars were great to see and we got visited by dolphins, which are always cool with the phosphorescence in the water.
The trip wasn't part of a race. The purpose of the trip was to get some sea-miles under the belt for the crew of Minerva. In two weeks time we will be embarking on the Southport Race, a 384 mile trip from Sydney to the Gold Coast. In that passage I'll be enjoying the luxury of having 9 other crew members, rather than just the one.
After our passage north and a pleasant evening watching the All Blacks we backed up with a sail in the Winter Series on Sunday. The picture below shows us on the breeze on the way up to Manly, with some nice lifting pressure.I'm very grateful to get a spot on Minerva. The offshore racing is really valuable to me when we are building up to some intimidating long races on Mr. R. over the summer. It reminds me of all the detail we have to be across when we're at sea. It's also obviously a lot of fun.
2 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Matt on 14/07/2010 11:47:44 AM
Posted by Mark on 14/07/2010 12:04:15 PM
Simrad Start Happy-Snaps
Here are some pictures taken just before and just after the start of the Simrad 50. If you're wondering where we are in the mosh pit after the start, don't ask us, we weren't sure where we were either!
0 Comments on: Blog EntryMonday 5th July, 2010
Simrad 50 Race Report
173 boats and 346 sailors gathered in the Hauraki Gulf this Saturday for a World Record attempt in the categories of "Slowest Sporting Event" and "Largest Collective Display of Patience". Unfortunately these records were already held by the Wallabies forward pack and their Australian supporters. The Simrad 50 ran fairly close though.
The race committee managed to get the long-haul fleet away in a slight westerly breeze and the fleet took-off across the harbour under spinnakers. On Mr. R. we talked about not getting caught up at the boat end, until the last minute that is when despite our best intentions we found ourselves among a posse of boats jammed up by the committee boat. After a scrappy hoist we had a bit of work to do. It turned out it didn't matter as the whole fleet was heading towards North Head where there was less air than outer space. One by one the boats ran into the hole and the kites came down and headsails popped up.
There were a lot of divergent strategies on display for coping with the lack of wind and incoming tide. Some boats anchored, some sought the light westerly zephyrs that wafted off Cheltenham, some vessels simply popped open a tinnie and shouted out advice to the competition. There wasn't really a respite from the frustration and tedium of drifting about until a relatively fresh 1 knot Northerly settled in. With a bit of coaxing we got the slightest bit of rumble on. We knew we had to just keep the boat moving, but also targeted the Eastern side of the channel as the best place to get out of the tide and pick up some breeze. It wasn't the simplest exercise to get over there but ultimately we made it and it paid off. It was a relief to get around Rangitoto light and get our nose into some breeze.
The reach across the top of Rangitoto was simple enough. A lot of boats with good reaching set-ups like code-zeros certainly stretched their legs here. A notable mention would have to be for Hornblower, who rounded the light with us and showed great speed with their huge #1 heady on. In a wee twist of fate we would end up re-converging with them about 9 hours later near the finish. We had squeezed in a sneaky training run on Friday night and managed to spend a little bit of time looking at sheeting angles for the new #1 sail, so we had the boat in a good groove across this leg. We gorged ourselves on superb bacon and egg pies (prepared by Matt's wife Cath) as we rumbled along.
The next challenge was to squeeze down behind Rakino and settle in to a long reach across to Waiheke. The reach was quite shy but there wasn't a lot of breeze. The largest kite we have has been nick-named the "big-top". It's one of those technicolour patchwork numbers from another era and it's seen a bit of work. It is a big chute and it served us very well in our first race so it's getting a few more races in before it moves onto it's next life as a car cover. The big-top wasn't the best option for a long shy reach so we elected to use our A-sail, which is efficient but not massive.
We held reasonable speed and height through the channel and across the long reach but whenever we got freed up by the breeze the boats behind started coming into us like space invaders. We were pretty badly exposed for a lack of grunt as we gybed down the back of Waiheke. It was traumatic to see a hard-earned lead get whittled away here and a few boats got through us, including our near-sistership Eleanor who had an absolute whomper of a kite on. Actually to say traumatic would be exaggerating a bit, we just thought it was a bit stink, the euthanasia kits are still in their wrappers down below.
Once we were back on the breeze and on the return leg back to Auckland we saw hundreds of the short-haul boats heading the other way, including our buddies on Coppelia. As dusk fell it looked like a Christmas tree behind us, with lots of red and green lights. Less masculine blokes might even have said it was a pretty sight, but we are too staunch for that kind of carry on. On the long beat back we found that with a bit of attention we could dial up good speed and height. We also found that any sloppiness or inattention also had us slip out of the groove quickly. On a day race it's easy enough to both keep at it, but it is already apparent that it will be challenging to keep going 100% when we are keeping watches. Getting comfortable sailing the boat 1-up is going to be a priority for the rest of this series.
The most memorable moment of the beat home was when Backchat and Galeforce obviously become frustrated with eased-sheets and decided to try hoisting kites. Murphy's law held true and a 20 degree header coincided with the kite hoist forcing both of them to bear away and head towards the leeward end of Browns island. The same header forced us to really squeeze up to get around the top of the island. The depth got a bit tight but we got around and we were able to ease sheets and unclench sphincters.
We ended up sailing with the Elliot sisters all the way down to Bean Rock. We decided to get the kite ready for a reach down to the finish, but just as it was clipped on and ready to go Murphy struck again and we got another 20 degree header. The breeze quite literally shut down, like Huey had just flicked the switch. A couple of tacks were required to get around the light and we bore away down to the finish. The last leg was interminably slow as we made 1 knot headway to the line. A couple of boats that weren't too far in front snuck through before the breeze clapped out. It would be harsh to complain though because we were within sight of the line while he vast majority of the fleet were parking up in the Tamaki straits miles back up the track.
In the end we were 9th overall in our division and 12th (out of 40 or so boats) in the longhaul fleet. The full results are in the SSANZ site. Just like the last race it was an absolute adventure and we had a great time just giving it a go. We have still got a lot of room for improvement but our confidence is growing with each outing.
As we write this article the wind has screeched in at 40 knots and it's bitterly cold like the mood in the Wallabies dressing room. We know we'll get a chance to test ourselves and the boat in some strong breeze eventually, but we think the light day wasn't such a bad thing for us on our second outing.
The next race is just over a month away.
2 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Simon on 6/07/2010 5:38:53 PM
Posted by Mr. R. Himself on 7/07/2010
We have finished the race after a very long, slow day. At times it was a parking lot with no wind at all.
Despite this the race was really good. The breeze was fickle and random and as predicted we had moments of glory and some breaks that didn't go our way.
We think we've done OK in our division. We'll find out how we went when everyone finally finishes.
A full report will follow tomorrow.
3 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Emily on 4/07/2010
Posted by Mark on 5/07/2010
Posted by Mandy on 5/07/2010 8:51:11 PM
We got on the water today and got to tick off our to-do list of tasks. With only two of us you find that everything takes a bit longer than usual, but we got it all done.
Foremost of these tasks was to try out some new sails and make sure they were all OK. They turned out to be more than OK, the new #1 was fantastic, so kudos to Rodney and the team at Evolution sails for their good work.
We went for a quick sail up to the north end of Rangitoto and tried the Headsail, JT and A-sail. Tomorrow will be really light so those are likely to be the gear we will use. We ended up ghosting back into Auckland harbour after dark. There were surprisingly few other sailors out there with us.
A revelation today was that the auotpilot is a better steerer than both of us so that might see more action in future.
The forecast for the race is shocking. It will be a big parking lot and a bit of a lottery as to who gets the breeze and who doesn't. We will give it our best shot and hopefully get our share of luck.
3 Comments on: Blog Entry
Posted by Cath on 3/07/2010 10:31:24 AM
Posted by John Minnee on 6/07/2010 6:35:22 AM
Posted by Mr. R. Himself on 7/07/2010
This season beanies are back in style, preferably in black and worn covering the eyebrows (or monobrow in Mark's case).
0 Comments on: Blog EntryFriday 2nd July, 2010
Back home and time to go sailing
I woke up to the sound of a Tui outside the window and condensation on my breath and it could only mean I was was in NZ. I arrived at an unsociable hour last night, but that means that we have the day today to do some sailing.
We'll head down today to Mr. R. and there is a list of things to do. There's noting major, just fun stuff like hoisting the two new sails, packing the kites and putting in reef lines, etc.
There are 173 competitors in the race tomorrow, which is simply brilliant. Our division is really competitive and we suspect the short-handed learning curve is about to steeper!
The weather looks like it will be light. It could be a fairly long, slow race with some pretty big losses and gains to be made as you fall in and out of the breeze.
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July 2010 (7 Entries)