We welcome our friends from the Barcelona World Race back and thank them for their support and advertising with Sailing Anarchy! The BWR is a completely unique race, providing most of the adventure and challenge of the Vendee Globe, but adding the spice and flavor of a start in the fabulous city of Barcelona and the excitement and adrenaline available from the higher-performance of a double handed crew.
The additional body aboard also means the interpersonal relationship is a big part of the race, and with one more person to write/shoot/edit there’s more content as well. In just three editions it’s become one of the world’s greatest ocean races, and you can talk about the race here, and hit their Facebook Page here for more info. Here’s their big announcement:
The third edition of the Barcelona World Race starts New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2014 and will reveal ten duos or more on the start line, ready to take on the biggest and most arduous challenge in double-handed ocean racing!
Four high caliber teams have already announced their participation, including six co-skippers who return as BWR race veterans. Entered teams are the Mare Racing Team with German and French skippers Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane, GAES Centros Auditivos with Spaniards Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin, Hugo Boss with Alex Thomson from Great Britain and Pepe Ribes from Spain and the recently announced Neutrogena Sailing Team with Spaniard Guillermo Altadill and Chilean Jose Munoz, to be joined by another six in the upcoming weeks and months.
The next edition will take a new course, taking the fleet south of New Zealand this time. Stops will be taxed much more heavily. The Barcelona World Race, a thrilling adventure to take competitive human sporting partnerships to the limit of endurance, has long since set its position as a ‘must do’ on the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship.
An innovative and exciting media programme using up-to-the-minute platforms will bring the Barcelona World Race to individual race fans and into households around the world, developing and reporting the sporting and human stories hour by hour and day by day. The commercial returns for sponsors and partners on previous editions of the race represent excellent value. And alongside the sporting challenge, the Barcelona World Race will open avenues for important scientific and marine research.
March 5th, 2014
She is crewed by the O’Flaharta family who have had the boat for generations. Though residing in the West of Ireland, many of the family were born in Chicago, a city with great links to Galway.
Where race crews today typically comprise of Privateers and Antipodean nomads, if you ain’t a blood relative of the O’Flaharta clann, you’ll do well to get on board for a race. Boy can she move too! – Anarchist Cillian.
March 5th, 2014
You know about USWatercraft, right? No? You will after you read this in-depth look at who the are, where they’ve been and where they’re going from our friends at Professional BoatBuilder…
USWatercraft is assembling a diverse group of brands on an existing solid foundation of former Rhode Island boatbuilders, particularly the Pearson family’s companies. J/24′s to powerboats to the resurrection of C&C Yachts – ( That’s the brand new Redline 41 nearing completion pictured here).
There’s tons more. Read it!
March 5th, 2014
What’s not to like in this shot of some Olympic training in Mallorca for the upcoming ISAF World Cup trophy? Of course it is from Jesús Renedo!
March 5th, 2014
Looks like some breeze finally hitting the Harbour for the fourth race of what’s been a light air affair until now in the JJ Giltinan/18 Foot Skiff Worlds. Today most of the fleet has their small rig up; will it pay or will it wallow? Watch right here and a big shoutout to the great job the whole live streaming team is doing; it’s our privilege to be their Official Streaming Partner and we’re stoked there are another 4 days of great action ahead!
March 4th, 2014
The angry chicks on Team SCA workin’ it. Photo thanks to Rick Tomlinson.
March 4th, 2014
Designer Robert Perry shares the SA feel-good story of the week…
I have B.J.Porter’s son here at that shack for two weeks. We have been corresponding by email for about a year and now he is here staying with me so I can teach him the tricks of the trade.
I have decided to start him out with some good ol’timey hand drafting. Just like the guys in Alden’s and Rhodes’ and S&S and Tripp’s offices did. Real men, smoking pipes and wearing vests. Ok, I won’t make Will smoke a pipe. Not yet anyway. We started this morning at 6am. We have been hard at it. Here is Will fathoming the mysteries of spline weights and splines. I figure he won’t. learn this anywhere else and down the line it will help him with curves on the compooter.
March 4th, 2014
The TORO will dock at Port-de-Plaisance marina in St-Martin till the end of the week. The team welcomes you to see and try the TORO and to talk about all the projects on the drawing table.
March 4th, 2014
Not exactly sailing, but there is a “boat” involved….
If there was any doubt that the creationist kooks are bat shit crazy, it has now been officially removed. Spending $73 million dollars to build a “replica” of something that was in a book that, among other things, claims that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that man roamed the earth with dinosaurs, the insanity of the fundys in this country is now – or soon will be – on display: They are pissing away $125.6 million to build a pretend version of a pretend boat.
Creation Museum founder Ken “all men are sinners” Ham announced Thursday that enough money had been raised to begin construction of a 510-foot “replica” of Noah’s Ark as part of a multimillion-dollar Ark Encounter project. The Ark Encounter will sit on 800 acres of land in Williamstown, Ky., and will be developed “in phases over many years,” according to a press release from Ham’s Answers in Genesis organization. The first phase alone will cost an estimated $73 million. Read on and watch Bill Nye shred the fairy tale of Noah’s Ark here.
March 4th, 2014
The spectacular racing of the 34th America’s Cup was, at times, frustrating for we sailors, with an overhyped know-nothing commentator and an over-aged AC winner pointing out irrelevant facts and useless trivia in vain hopes of getting the ‘mainstream’ to buy into the live feed. We got to see some of the most amazing sail racing ever captured on screen, but it was often better with the sound off.
This week’s 18 Footer Worlds (also known as the JJ Giltinan Championship presented by Sydney City Marine) might feature some of the same faces; AC34 Regatta Director and AC35 Challenger of Record CEO Iain Murray is helping out with the commentary at times, while numerous AC sailors are spread throughout the fleet.
But this broadcast ain’t for the landlubbers, it’s for sailors only, and the boys behind the microphone make no bones about it. So if you’re a racer and you want to know who’s on the inside of what shift, and who’s got a slightly better kite drop than the other guy and the inside position at the Zone, this live coverage is for you.
March 3rd, 2014
As promised, our pal Mr. Thomson takes the walk and then the plunge. Yeah, it’s a little corny; the reality TV music makes us want Alex to maybe, just maybe catch his foot in a halyard. But as you can see, this was no photoshop job. Balls of steel or stupid stunt? We’re still fans of the Boss. Hit the thread.
March 3rd, 2014
Saturday’s abandoned race day for the JJ Giltinan/18 Foot Skiff Worlds got another chance on Monday, and with Gotta Love It 7 manager and Australian America’s Cup CEO Iain Murray on the Camera Cat with Killo and Marko, a great race with tons of lead changes and drama even if the good breeze never showed up…replay above and full story and news over here and plenty more action throughout the week, live here on the SA front page.
March 2nd, 2014
London’s Sunday Times and the Financial News both repeated today the news we broke last week in a Sailing Anarchy world exclusive; it appears they have their hands on an embargoed press release confirming the sale of North Technology Group to Oakley Capital, founded by UK entrepreneur Peter Dubens.
They report the sailmaker being ‘valued at $130m’ instead of the >$400m sale we reported – a value that may be explained by the complexity of the numbers games in a multi-subsidiary debt + equity deal like this one as well as the fact that the current owner will retain a minority equity stake. The Times reports that Tom Whidden will stay on as CEO, while Dubens will take over as Chairman and superyacht owner and maxi racer Sir Charles Dunstone will join as a non-exec director.
March 2nd, 2014
We grabbed Doyle NZ principal and Volvo Ocean Race winner Moose Sanderson for another in a long line of Sailing Anarchy Innerviews with the offshore superstar; this time, just after his Line Honors and CSA overall win at last week’s Caribbean 600 aboard Hap Fauth’s Mini-Maxi Bella Mente. As usual, he’s the real deal and always straight up with the Anarchists, and he’s got plenty to share. This is a good one.
SA: The Caribbean 600 has become one of the best-regarded races in the world in a short time. Is this your first one? What did you think of the unique course?
MS: This is my second Carib 600, I did it last year with Hap and the Team on Bella, last year we also had a great race except we got hosed on the back side of Guadeloupe and flopped around for two hours, and ended up losing the race by 5 minutes on corrected time. This year we really wanted to leave no stone unturned, so we (Ian Moore in particular) did a huge amount of work looking into how we could lower the risk of getting stuck and this time we had a dream run after executing our plan. The race is fantastic, it is for sure one of the most challenging races you can do if you choose to sail it at high intensity; 600 miles is a tough length on a very quick boat, because it’s a full-on sprint with a vague hope of a cat-nap hear or there. Throw in solid trade winds and ten or so turning marks that double as islands, and it is a VERY busy race track. I have to say for me it is up there as one of my favorites!
SA: Tell us what it was like to sail with one of our favourite all-time sailors, Terry Hutchinson? He’s not known as an offshore guy – how’d he adjust to the Bella Mente?
MS: Terry did the Maxi Worlds with us last year and fit in well from the get-go. We’ve always run the afterguard on Bella as a very strong team, we are all big boys and have great conversations as to who’s strengths are best utilised in the different regattas. Our little team is made up of Terry, John Cutler, and me and then Ian Moore who always navigates. The rest of us do quite a bit of juggling around with Terry getting the nod when it comes to the inshore tactical role, John doing great work at filling those shoes when Terry isn’t with us (and also the guy who helps Hap get off the start line before slipping into a Strategist’s role), while I take a more leading role when we are offshore and then slip into a “crew boss” role for the day races as well as relief helming for Hap. It all works very well.
Terry was great to sail with offshore, as offshore racing has become more and more intense especially in a race like this one, the difference between inshore and offshore styles has closed right down. We try and maintain a very high intensity when racing offshore on Bella and that suits Terry well. Great tactician, gets a lot out of his guys and a super fast driver! Whats there not to love?
SA: You and the Rambler traded places and battled the whole time for line honors, with Shockwave just behind but close enough to take the IRC trophy. Can you take us through your race? Was it as exciting in person as it seemed from the tracker and occasional updates from the course?
MS: The big surprise for us was that we where in fact able to race with Rambler boat for boat! To be honest, I am not sure what was going on there, upwind and downwind she was quicker and then reaching we had an edge. To be fair though, it was Guadeloupe and all the work there that got us past them, and from there they where slowly chipping back into us, especially upwind.
Until Guadeloupe we had not only been trading the overall lead with Rambler, but had also been trading IRC overall with Shockwave and the much smaller Privateer. After Guadeloupe we had a really good beat and then just hauled ass down the reach (well most of it, anyway) to the laid mark under Barbuda, at one stage stretching out to a twenty mile lead over Shockwave and a very healthy IRC overall lead. Unfortunately, in a very black night we sailed into a very black cloud and went to leading Shockwave by 20 to leading by just 5 with just two legs to go! They did well to put themselves in a position to pounce, but our toast landed butter-side down in that cloud, that’s for sure.
SA: Doyle is really making a name for itself up at the very top level of big boat racing as proven by this race itself; the start photo we posted last week from the 600 had three Doyle-equipped boat out of four maxis, which is a big change from a few years ago. What’s been the secret to building this kind of strength so quickly?
MS: It was a nice photo from Tim Wright that you’re referring to, that’s for sure – with Doyle sails on Bella and IDEA and then Shockwave and Caro with full Doyle inventories. It’s been a VERY long time since we have seen any other sail maker break into the North world in big racing boats, but the fact of the matter is that Doyle is making great sails and that benefits everyone. Look back at that photo and you’ll see two very happy owners with full Doyle packages, and then a very happy owner on Bella who loves to see North and Doyle pushing each other around to get faster. I have no doubt that the North designs have gotten better because we’ve been there as a pain their ass, and when we can get a chance to shine on a new boat, we give it everything we’ve got. AT the end of the day, our product is good and that makes it a lot easier! In Superyachts we continue to kick plenty of ass, and now that we’ve gotten more traction in big racing yachts, we’re becoming more fashionable amongst the superyachts as racing sails. All in all, I’m very happy with Doyle’s progress, and with ICE starting to pop and allowing us to increase the modulus of our grand prix sails by 20-30 per cent without giving up durability, it’s only going to get better.
SA: With some of these maxi and mini-maxi boats getting almost multihull fast, what kind of major developments are proving to be game changers in those fleets? What’s not fast?
MS: One of the big things which we are seeing in big, quick IRC boats is the decision to go with conventional gennakers or the decision to go “non-spinnaker”, which enables you to sail un-restricted mid-girth wise on your code sails. The most obvious display of this lately was between the two Volvo 70’s in the Hobart Race, even though Black Jack beat Giacomo over the line she placed well behind her on IRC as Giacomo was classified as “non-spinnaker”. For offshore races like the Caribbean 600, Bella Mente, for example, has a higher probability of winning by sailing with a non-spinnaker rating because there is so much reaching. Under the rule, you pay a big penalty for the massive code zeros, but you get a big credit for not having any running gennakers. The secret to this working (or not) is how quick the boat is. Obviously big multihulls don’t have flying sails, while big IOR boats had spinnaker poles – somewhere in the middle you can get away with losing the kites and it will improve IRC results. Where that line is? We don’t know yet. Somewhere around mini-maxi, apparently!
SA: You had a pretty high-profile customer with the Team Australia trimaran. How did you like sailing a big multihull? Is there any chance the major down under races like the Hobart will open up to multihulls anytime soon?
MS: The Team Aus Tri was some of the most fun yachting I have done for ages! Coastal Classic upwind is normally a real pain, but sitting on 19.4 knots at 42 TWA has pretty big appeal! Owner Sean Langman is a very good yachtie and so he is safe in this style of boat, I guess the issue is how do you stop guys who shouldn’t do a Hobart in a racing trimaran if you open it up to all comers? There is no doubt that they are more dangerous then a monohull in the wrong hands. Curved foils make them quite a bit safer, and with more of these displacement-carrying foils entering the game, maybe they will continue to get safer and safer. I do think the Hobart should allow multihulls to be part of the race, but I also think entering crews and boats should be well proven before being allowed into the fleet on Boxing Day.
SA: With every New Zealander glued to their TVs for the America’s Cup and now an Australian AC challenge with a pretty good chance of doing well, has there been much of an infusion of multihull interest down under? You have any cool multihull projects on the horizon? Will we see Doyles on any AC teams like you had going with the Team Korea folks?
MS: We enjoyed our association with Team Korea, and of course we offered our loft and services to ETNZ for the last cup. If the Cup had come back to NZ it would have obviously been huge for us with the superyacht side of the business, but I am not sure we will focus too much attention on getting amongst the Cup teams. It takes a huge amount of resources and doesn’t really have any trickle-down benefits to the vast majority of our customers. Doyle NZ has a share in one of the Team New Zealand’s SL 33 catamarans, so we have some fun coming up learning to master proper foiling around the harbor. We’re also building Doyle Stratis blanks for Glen Ashby’s A-Class sails, so we’ll be ramping that up more after he and his boys dominated the A-Class Worlds here last month.
SA: You had a fantastic relationship with Alex Thomson when he brought a previous generation Hugo Boss to an unlikely and hard-fought podium finish in the Vendee Globe using a full set of Doyle sails. Now we hear you’ve got two Open 60s running Doyle ICE for the next Vendee. Can you tell us what challenges and opportunities this presents for you, and how the competition is shaping up? Will we ever see you back in the Open 60?
MS: It’s not for me to talk too much about Alex’s program, but it would be fair to say that we are VERY happy how it has all worked out. There could be as many as four or five Doyle Stratis boats on the start line for the next Vendee, which would of course be huge for us. In an older, heavier boat in the last Vendee, Alex just couldn’t afford to run conservative, heavy sails full of spectra like some did. He was adamant that the gear we did for him played a very big part in his result. The future is exciting for us in this arena and of course the racing is spectacular.
SA: The Volvo Ocean Race caught plenty of flack for the move to one-design boats, but both we and you were big supporters of that move and it seems to have paid off. The one-design sail requirements with all boats required to run North sails, not so much. As a previous winner of the race and now a sailmaker locked out of the race, what do you think this requirement does to the performance of the boats? Does the Volvo 65 suffer from a lack of sail development, or is North up to the task?
MS: Yes I did believe that the Volvo Race needed to go one-design for this and the next cycle at least, and I agree it does look like this has paid off. If it’s true as you guys reported last week that ETNZ and Nico are going to be in the race that gives it a MASSIVE boost.
When the skippers and team CEOs of the last Volvo race met in Lisbon after Knut’s presentation, the group unanimously agreed to go one-design on boats and unanimously voted to NOT go for one-design sails, instead opting to choose tightly restricted sails and open sailmakers – so it would be fair to say that a lot of people where pretty disappointed with the news that the race was going one-design sails. Lots of people have missed out, not only just other brands of sail lofts, but other lofts inside the designated one-design sailmaker – for example, North Sails New Zealand has made sails for every Whitbread and Volvo since 1985, so I’m sure they were pretty disappointed not to be involved at all with the whole project going to North Sails France, who only recently got back into the race with Groupama. So to answer your question, yes the Volvo 65 will suffer from there not being any sail development, of course Norths are up to it if they had to be, but they don’t. ”It’s all the same, so who cares, right?” Well, it’s not the right deal for the Volvo Race, if you ask me.
SA: Back to the VOR, you’ve had a chance to see who the teams are now – can you give us your podium picks? What’s going to be the biggest difference the teams will face going from racing VO70s compared to VOD65s?
MS: Nice try, Clean! It’s way too early to pick the podium – remember that the Volvo is a race about people, and until we see the crews and the time they get to spend on the water, no one knows who will do well. The move to OD boats is going to be tough, and if everyone has to push as hard as, for instance, the Telefonica guys pushed their boat on the leg to Lisbon in the last race, it is going to be just brutal. Let’s hope the boats are all-in-all faster without being pushed that hard.
March 2nd, 2014
Alex Thomson and the Hugo Boss team have proven masters at the art of the publicity stunt. With the widespread success of his various suit-adorned keel walking stunts, you’d think the rest of the yachting media would’ve long ago caught to this extremely effective PR tool. But the severe lack of creativity in those circles means no one else has, and that leaves us waiting every year to see how the Boss boys will outdo themselves. That brings us to this coming week, when we’ll see the full video of Alex Thomson doing something none of you has ever seen; a deck-to-masthead run and exit aboard the Farr-designed Hugo Boss that AT brought to an unlikely and hard-fought podium finish in the last Vendee Globe. Keep your eyes right here for the movie shot in Cadiz, Spain and first reported by Voile. Mark Lloyd photo.
Title from a TV show that you might’ve never seen, but you should have. Here’s a hint.
March 2nd, 2014
An up and down 2 hours of racing in everything from 2 knots to 15 knots for the 18 Footers. Watch it all above or fast forward to this page for the day’s results. Tonight’s racing starts 2230 EST/1930 PST once again, and once again, it’s all live right here on SA. Get over to Pick The Podium to bet on the winners.
March 1st, 2014
Epic is such an overused word that it has become trite in our lexicon. However, for this one exception, I have to agree with those who have used it to describe the current ice sailing situation on the Hudson. Epic.
Today I took our ice boat the Cold Front down to Astor Point on the Rokeby Estate. Due to timing issues she sits on the ice, but is not quite fully rigged. That will be completed tomorrow.
However, I did enjoy a ride on the Rip Van Winkle, a 37 foot 6 inch long gaff-rigged sloop built around 1905 and owned by our most gracious hosts, the Aldrich family, who also own Rokeby and Astor Point. The Rip Van Winkle is the fourth longest boat in the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club fleet. The wind was howling and we went very fast. We stopped at the channel to salute a member of the HRIYC who is a professional river pilot and he was taking a large oil tanker down from Albany on his final trip before retirement.
There were a half dozen historic stern steerers out today, with maybe another dozen parked at Astor Point and South Tivoli Bay. They are all expected to be sailing over the weekend.
Glen Burger, who owns The Hound with his father, made this video of his 35 miles of sailing today. From end to end, the ice sheet that we are sailing is 20 miles long, which is extraordinary in scope for our current era of warm winters.
March 1st, 2014
For the first time in the 75-year history of the JJ Giltinan, the first day of racing was abandoned after two races were started and sailed in a shifty and dying breeze – watch above for the call. Monday’s lay day will likely become the replacement for the abandoned race day, and we’ll have it all live starting at 1430 Sydney time;10:30 PM US EST. The coverage from yesterday is still damned good, especially for a team that’s doing its first fully live stream of 18 footer racing; go here to check out the videos from the day.
Bob Killick hits us with the race report and the first Pick The Podium winner from a funky practice race on Sydney Harbour. Register and get your entries in NOW: Just an hour and change left before the deadline! Racing starts at 11:30 PM on the US East Coast; perfect for you drunken knuckleheads just coming in from the bar. Or plug the computer into your club’s HDMI port and away you go! Can’t watch it live? Eyes on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.
What can I say? yesterday’s Invitation Race was a practice race, and at this stage the Livestream gadget is 1 and and we are at 0. Something about the brain to web interface…in other words, the ‘software’ that is us. See, there you go: The geeks are winning again!
Apparently the live tracking didn’t live up either, so 2 for the Geeks and still nought for the Camera Cat boys and girls. To make matters worse, whilst heading into the Double Bay wharf the Camera Cat and Brett Van Munster’s 18 footer Kenwood Rabbitohs came together with a crunch. Brett was not happy and we certainly should’ve had eyes on him with so many on the cat, but it could have been a lot worse as it sounded like we had taken his bow off. Great evidence that Van Munster-built boats are tough [Bret builds the 18 footers and high performance carbon racing yachts at his shop North of Sydney -Ed].
Yesterday’s race video will be uploaded asap today, and is a must watch for you more serious players, because of the next two day’s weather forecasts. We noted especially the ability of C Tech NZ, Yamaha NZ, and Mojo Wines’ ability to push it to the big rigs – something that shouldn’t happen. Also, the performances of Pica UK and CST Composites USA who look to have the measure of the Sydney boats. So look at their work when the video goes live and factor that in with the forecasts for today and Sunday before you Pick Your Podium!
So Gotta Love It 7 was a no brainer for most, but Pica UK was not on anyone’s radar, and as a result we had a stand alone winner yesterday. Congratulations go to Jimmy Flemming, who was the only entry with two boats in the correct finishing order: 7 in first, and Fisher & Paykel in third, nice job Jimmy! He wins the Java sunnies from Barz Optics, takes the Bragging Rights for the race AND is our first winner to go into the draw on Sunday 9th for a crack at the best-ever set of major prizes for this JJ competition. Prize donors listed over here along with the form guide for you P-T-P aficionados, and a big THANKS to them.
Entries close off for today’s JJ Race 1 at 1200hrs local Sydney time so get cracking and have a shot…..here’s an obvious tip: Just enter Gotta Luv it 7 as your 1st place pick, and at least you will get one right. Good luck!
February 28th, 2014
Our pal Jack from Cornwall checks in with some info on the just-launched double-masted foiling Cobalt Cat. You can check it out in this video as well as at the RYA Dinghy Show this weekend in London – always a great way to blow out the winter blues and get ready for the season ahead.
It was with great satisfaction earlier this month that the Team Cobalt Catamaran made its first leap up onto its hydrofoils in 10 knots of Breeze at Calshot Spit on the Solent. This was the culmination of a 3 year part time build program for our team which we formed to design and build a 20′ hydrofoil bourne catamaran to take on the Round the Isle of Wight Record. An ambitious project to champion the merits of small multihulls and push the limits of the beach-cat platform.
The boat will be making its public debut at this weekend’s RYA Dinghy Exhibition in London where myself and Luke Yeates co-founders of Team Cobalt will be manning the stand in the Palm Court entrance. Come on down to the stand we’ll be giving talks on the project and running a “guess the weight of the boat” competition to win a Ronstan sailing watch.
Team Cobalt are now looking for syndicate partners to join the project and take it to the next stage of optimisation and taking on the challenge of the RTI course. Get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter.
February 28th, 2014
We kind of knew what to expect when our weather consultant Mike Quilter cheerfully said ‘Looks like you can vacuum pack the gennakers for this leg’. The fun was over in terms of gennaker rides and it was going to be on the wind or a two-sail all the way back from Napier to Auckland.
We started once again in super-light conditions, and edged our way across Hawke’s Bay to Portland Island at the tip of the Mahia Peninsula by later afternoon. We had a slight lead on the fleet but managed to lose it after a headsail change went wrong. Bushido was as usual in close company but they stayed inshore as we took a long board out to sea, putting in a couple of reefs and getting down to number four jib as the wind built.
After an uncomfortable night we headed back inshore again and came back together with the Bushido north of Tolaga Bay, with us about three miles ahead. The wind had settled down again and we had a reasonably pleasant if intense day exchanging tacks with them, keeping a cover as we headed for East Cape.
Once we were around the cape the next phase of breeze set in, giving us a decent two-sail and a chance to actually eat a freeze-dried meal and have a bit of a sleep. Then the wind started to build again as we reached across to White Island. We got the timing of the next shift right and laid through between the island and the Volkner Rocks, while Bushido was forced to tack behind us, giving us a little bit of a jump. We then got the forecast shift to the south and we able to tack and start reaching rapidly across the Bay of Plenty and up the Coromandel coast, laying the Mercury Islands. We had pulled out to a lead of about nine miles by this stage but we were conscious of getting as big a lead as possible before going around Cape Colville and coming back onto the wind in the forecast fresh southwesterly.
We were quite keen to go outside the Mercs but as ‘the beach boys’ as we had dubbed the Bushido crew seemed likely to go inshore, we thought we had better cover them. As we approached Cape Colville we listened to the Hauraki Gulf forecast and nowcasting and got set up for 25 knots gusting 30, with the number four jib and two reefs. It turned out to be much fresher than that: as we passed Channel Island it was already 30–35 and the nowcasting was recording gusts of 40 on the island.
We laid a big board over to the back of Kawau Island, with the wind slowly turning south. We had a major dilemma: we were way overpowered with the number four, but changing to the storm jib, with the way the inner forestay was set up and the bullet hank system on the jib, was just impossible in those conditions. We went bareheaded for a time as darkness came, knowing that Bushido would be eating into our lead but damned either way. We just hoped the wind would abate as the night came on, to give us some relief.
By the time we got the storm jib on tacked at Kawau and started heading down the coast towards Auckland, the breeze was topping out at 48 knots and had shifted into an even more southerly direction, making it a dead maggot all the way down. The sea was rough and visibility was challenging: we kept a close eye on the chart plotter as we picked our way down the coast through the Tiri Channel and past a few notorious reefs and rocks.
We could see Bushido’s lights ahead of us and knew there was no way we could catch them. The wind lightened a little and we really needed to go back to the number four but we had run out of time to go though that performance again. In the end we cruised into the finish in a puffy Waitemata Harbour around 2am, about 12 minutes behind Bushido, who had gone back to full main and number four.
We were utterly exhausted and disappointed to have lost our lead in the final stages, but had done enough to fulfill our goal of being the fastest boat around the North Island and win the race on total elapsed time. We hadn’t really slept or eaten for 36 hours, so after a quick pack up it was a quick rum then off to bed for quite some time.
Finishing the race — let alone winning it — is a huge achievement, and a great honour for the 22 boats that made it round this year (compared to the 2011 race, when around half the fleet was forced to pull out, everyone completed the race this year). It’s a great event, with a tremendous feeling of camaraderie on shore as well as some fierce competition on the water.
I feel honoured to have been able to share in Tony and Vesna’s Wells’ vision for Blink and to have got to know her really well as we pushed her hard around the North Island. It was a totally different experience to going round in Karma Police three years ago and I don’t think it could be topped…but ask me again in another three years…
A huge thanks to everyone involved, especially our Blink Shore Team!
February 28th, 2014