20 October 2012

Coastal Classic 2012 - Division 2 Perspective

Continuing the theme of this spring season so far, the 2012 Coastal Classic got away in very fresh conditions, with squalls coming through the start area to make the short run from Devonport and the gybe at North Head anything but straightforward, especially for those carrying extras.  Ran Tan in particular got laid down for over a minute with the canting keel on the wrong side, and only coming upright when the tack blew out of the gennaker.

Ran Tan
I was racing on the White 40 Nosaka and we had a great start, right at the wharf end of the start line and an inside track against the incoming tide. We ran with a poled out no.2 to lead the Division 2 fleet to North Head, pulling off an easy gybe and then setting off towards Tiri channel.  Although the A-sail was ready to go we stuck with a conservative sail plan, with further fronts looming behind the city and a forecast that predicted the breeze to increase. 

Nosaka approaching North Head
Valium passing Nosaka to leeward
Truxton were not mucking around and soon passed us flying their red gennaker, and Pretty Woman went past in quick order too, flying a masthead gennaker. Our good start had set us up well, but other boats were initially making gains but soon fell foul of an increase in the sou-westerly, topping out in the early 40s by Tiri Channel.  Valium went through in great style but snapped their rudder and broached, and having to retire. 

Others also had massive broaches and having some gear problems.  The Ross 930 No Worries had been going great but a delaminated transom saw them head to Gulf Harbour, and Division 1 boat Akatea broke their prod and were unable to hoist a headsail.  The Lambert 36 River Rebel was handling the conditions well with a fractional gennaker, looking very balanced and fast, and got past us before also eventually having to reduce sail.
Pretty Woman passing Nosaka just after North Head
 The breeze stayed very fresh for the reach to Kawau, we felt overpowered with full main and no.2 but were making good progress against those around us and the back of the Division 1 fleet, although it was getting hard to see Truxton and Pretty Woman.  We had already elected to take the low road around the back of the Hen and Chickens Islands, banking on the breeze easing late in the day, so started to split with the fleet as we left Cape Rodney, although had Frenzy nearby to keep us focussed.  It was hard to see the wind letting up though and we went to one reef, and then to two, while still lugging the no.2.  Our course saw us end up a bit more to the east of the Chickens than the previous year, and we even got reasonably close to the Poor Knights.  But the breeze did ease up slightly, and we progressively got the reefs out as we inched up towards Cape Brett on a pretty hot course.  Quite something to see the Brett in daylight and we rounded at about 20:30, very early for us!
Tongue Twister (Division 1) sets off at full noise
 The boat was in the groove for the sail in to Russell from the Brett, and an incoming tide saw us complete this section of the race in about 2 1/2 hours, finishing at 23:07, our new record.  We had passed Pretty Woman somewhere along the track to the Brett, and so finished second on line, although we later found out that Truxton, which had finished about 20 minutes ahead, had been over at the start so suffered a 30% time penalty and gave us the win.
The strong wind conditions saw a few records broken, notably Vodafone managed to break their 2011 time by 3 minutes (5hr 41m), and seeing a top speed of around 46 knots.  The new Elliott 35 Crusader finished in an extraordinary 10hr 2m to beat the previous fastest time for a 35 footer by 2 hours, and also broke the 40ft record.  To see why, check out this photo on Sail-world http://www.sail-world.com/NZ/Coastal-Classic:-Records-tumble-in-flight-north/103039.  The multihull 8.5 class record was also broken by Borderline, which finished just under 9 hours. Thanks to Stephen Craig on crew.org.nz for many of these photos.

And check out the great video of the start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0PUQ7NoAJ0.

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