To finish first, first you must finish
Several new records, including one standing for 16 years, were broken or set in the Coastal Classic Auckland to Russell Yacht Race, organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club this weekend. There is little doubt that the boats which sailed conservatively maximised their chance of finishing, and securing glory in Russell.
TeamVodafoneSailing was the first boat home, and secured its third consecutive race record, despite the fact that slowing the boat down and steering a safe course was a big focus of the race.
The 60 foot trimaran skippered by Simon Hull completed the race in five hours 41 minutes and 44 seconds, taking nearly three minutes off the record it set last year, and also setting a new record for multihulls at the same time.
Crusader 35 (LOA 10.65m) which finished in 10 hours and 2 minutes, has taken the under 10.66m record of 11 minutes and 53 seconds, held by Mumm 30 since 1996. It also exceeded the time for boats under 12.19m of 10 hours and 33 minutes, held by Satellite Spy since 1996.
Borderline achieved the first official records for the Open 8.5s, with a finishing time of 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting the bar high for a time to beat in future years.
The race started at Devonport Wharf in Auckland amidst a 30 knot wind squall and very poor visibility. Taking a conservative line at the wharf end, holding off the gybe for as long as possible, and resisting the urge to carry big gear, ensured the best results as the fleet rounded North Head, with an incoming cargo ship on a tight schedule causing problems for some.
Those that hoisted their big sails, as often as not found themselves in trouble with little room to manoeuvre: The catamaran Taeping was required to take drastic action when Rantan II broached.
For the fast multihulls it was a case of hold on tight, if you weren't doing a headsail change or tucking in a reef. TeamVodafoneSailing enacted at least a dozen headsail changes during its race, and Taeping's story is one of constant changes to boat configuration.
"We found the going very tough today," says Tim Willetts, owner of the bright green trimaran Timberwolf that has been turboed and refined more each year, and which blew out two kites during the race. The maximum wind gust they experienced was 37 knots, but it was the sea state that really effected them.
"At times, the seas were just evil. We found it dangerous over 18knots in the nasty stuff." Their peak speed was just over 25 knots.
"To be honest this was a day about seamanship and finishing and we found it hard to push the boat to its full limit."
Seeing Dirty Deeds flip over near Kawau in a massive gust gave them cause to concern.
"It did not help at all seeing the Deeds over, my best wishes to Bobbi and Greer, it's never good but great to hear it is back up again.We only survived that gust by seconds as we got our Code Zero [a big foresail] down just in time as another 35 knot gust hit us."
"This race was about boat management," says Event Director Jon Vincent. "Those that took a conservative approach benefited on the day. Those that went out there believing they could adjust to the conditions with too much sail area have suffered the consequences."
Of 167 starters, 11 boats withdrew. The smallest boat, an Elliott 7m called Elevation, from Rotorua, finished at 0302hrs Saturday.
TeamVodafone shaves minutes off record
By the narrowest of margins, TeamVodafoneSailing set its third consecutive record in the Coastal Classic Auckland to Russell Yacht Race this afternoon, when it crossed the finish line at 15:41, for a final finishing time of five hours, 41 minutes, and 44 seconds.
This year's race was very similar, albeit slightly heavier, to the 2011 event, with a blustery start and heavy seas.
"It was on the cusp of being too windy," says Skipper Simon Hull.
The big red trimaran was down to three reefs by the time it reached the Tiri Channel.
"There were a lot of ups and downs in the puffs, we sailed a long distance," he said.
The boat maxed out at 46 knots of boat speed in one burst, and enacted at least a dozen sail changes.
"It was a boisturous day out there," says Simon.
In 2011 the boat sailed the course in 5 hours, 44 minutes and 31 seconds for the overall record, and in its maiden Coastal Classic in 2010, it secured the multihull record.
Triple 8 finished at 16:56.47, and Taeping at 17:35.03. Several of the big monohulls have rounded Cape Brett.
MAKE SURE YOU CATCH OUR FULL RACE COMMENTARY, ON RACEWATCH
There is a fix available for PredictWind's trackers in the Android store. Please visit and update if possible. PredictWind trackers are now available for iPhones and Androids and will let spectators follow the fleet's progress up the coast. Full instructions are on our Pre-Race page.
Be followed to Russell!
Will you help us bring the race to life for online followers? We have a team of reporters stationed around the Hauraki Gulf to catch the start, but once the fleet is out of sight past Rangi Light, it's all up to you. If you are racing, call, text, email, with information about what's happening on your boat - where you are, wind conditions, sea state, what boats you can see, how you are doing, what's for lunch, tell us funny stories...
Text 021 273 5070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have race tracking for this year's event! Visit our Pre-Race page for instructions on how to install it for your boat, on your smartphone.
Hot off the Press
The Coastal Classic has a great email newsletter that we use to keep competitors and supporters informed and up to date. Check out recent issues, or sign up to make sure you receive the latest news and info about what's happening for the Great Race North. Like our Facebook page too!
Issue 1 - Welcome to 2012
Issue 2 - Entries are Open
Issue 3 - $500 prize draw announced - changes to Cat 3 & more
Issue 4- Earlybird entries close on Friday & the return of an old favourite
Issue 5 - Get followed to Russell - Railblaza - Sail online
Issue 6 - Entry period extended - tracker announcement - PredictWind - Musto clothing & more
A sub four-hour race record - dare we talk it up?
A good, fast sprint with a high chance of a record is forecast for this week's Coastal Classic Auckland to Russell Yacht Race, particularly for the boats that will lead the pack.The wind forecasting site PredictWind.com is suggesting that the boats will encounter a strong 25knot South West breeze off the start at 10am on Friday, moderating that night, a scenario that will see most boats hoist brightly coloured spinnakers or gennakers off the waters of the North Shore, and depart the Hauraki Gulf quick smart.
The breeze will stay in for most of the day, and a direct rhumb line route north (as pictured) will be the best option for most.
PredictWind's weather router says that, in a perfect race situation, TeamVodafoneSailing could finish in just under four hours. Last year the big red trimaran set the current race record, of five hours and 43 minutes. The lead monohulls will take eight or nine hours, and a mid speed keelboat, such as a Farr 1020, will finish in about 14 hours.
Slower boats, like the Farr 727 crewed by Edwin Delaat (16) and solo world circumnavigator Laura Dekker (17) will be out most, if not all, of the night, but will enjoy good sailing conditions.
“It's great to have a fast race,” says Race Director Jon Vincent. “Competitors arrive early and are ready to enjoy the hospitality that Russell offers.”
On behalf of the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, he wishes all competitors the very best with final race preparations, and a safe and enjoyable to journey.
The Coastal Classic starts from 10am on Friday 19 October off Devonport Wharf in Auckland, and finishes off Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands. The race is 119 nautical miles in length and 170 boats are expected to start.
Spectators can view the start from Tamaki Drive or North Head, and on the race website, www.coastalclassic.co.nz
The event's terrific prize pool is contributed by Safety at Sea, PredictWind.com, Dirty Dog, PIC Insurance, RAILBLAZA, Mount Gay Rum, ELF Oils and Hella Marine. MUSTO is official clothing supplier.
Words of Wisdom III
Make sure your boat is 100% ready to go by the night before racing. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few extra ideas to add to the mix
If you are leaving from Westhaven, try to cast off by 9am at the latest, to give you time to get to the start line, and do a reconnaissance, checking out conditions and confirming your starting strategy. With this start line being extra long, starting at one end of the line or the other, really helps you to know where you are at.
Use a website like PredictWind.com to know what the wind forecast is, and what the tide is going to be doing. Avoid adverse currents and make the most of helpful ones.
Really think hard about where to put your boat on the start line. Small boats, you really don't want to get stuck to leeward of a large boat - they'll roll over the top of you and the downtime will cost you in the first miles of the race.
The wind direction and proximity to North Head will affect your starting position. In a Westerly or North Westerly, North Head will always have a windless zone behind it.
Also think about the tides and currents as you get into the Bay of Islands, and close to the finish.
Pre-Race Analysis by Mark Mulcare
Mark Mulcare was the designer and instigator of the RaceTrack boat database and he has cast his expert eye over the race fleet to advise of the divisional prospects:
Division 1 has shaped up well with as good a battle for first over the line as we've had recently. V5, Wired, Georgia, Ran Tan and Kia Kaha all have good prospects for first monohull home. My pick will be V5, she's been improving steadily over the past 12 months and the forecast shouldn't hurt her prospects. For handicap, the wind may be a touch too far forward of the beam to suit the small flyers, Tongue Twister and Overload and I'm guessing it'll be a race that suits the bigger boats, so maybe V5, Wired and Akatea with BSL and the new Elliott 35 Crusader as dark horses.
In Division 2, as usual a very hard division to pick, Truxton is always sailed well and she would have to go close to favourite for line honours along with the White 40 Nosaka and Outrageous Fortune. The forecast may well favour the boats towards the front of the fleet. Pretty Woman has been going very well of recent time and must be in with a chance, as will be the Davidson 42 Spitfire which has recently returned to the local racing scene. Will also be interesting to watch the T30 Nedax Racing from Wellington to see how the Wellington folk measures up against their northern compatriots.
As always, Division 3 is an interesting mix of boats covering everything from the 1020s through light flyers like R n B to the larger cruisers Vision and Bella Rossa. On line, the Young 11 Peppermint Planet would seem to have a reasonable chance of repeating last years win. If the wind is a little further forward, things will favour the larger boats on line like Touchdown or Bella Rossa and perhaps Ilex. On handicap, again following the theme of big and possible earlier finishers in the division, I think Touchdown, Kantime and the Colson 9.8 Shrek's House must all be in with a chance.
In Division 4, whilst the wind may be a touch too far forward to be ideal, nonetheless the favourites on line must be the much modified 930s Pepe and No Worries. Handicap is a tougher call, Pepe should be near the front and is an improving boat so must have a chance. Other good prospects would be the Elliott 10 Hysteria and the First 34.7 First by Farr.
Division 5 has always been the domain of the SR26 and for line, the only SR26 in the race, this year, T-Rex will be a leading contender for line. Other prospects will again be the bigger boats, the Lidgard 40 Domino or with the wind a little aft, the well modified Ross 830 Bump n Grind. On handicap, whilst being a smaller boat won't help, the Farr 727 Crac a Jac looks to have a deal of experience on board and should have a chance. Other good chances look to be the much traveled Open Country and the Farr 9.2 Hot Gossip.
Division 6 for the bigger multihulls, no surprises that I'm picking Vodafone as a red hot favourite for line. On handicap, whilst they'll have to scurry to finish with the best of the weather, I quite like the chances of the more cruising oriented multis, look for Impreza or Fruition to be challenging along with the other ORMA 60 in the fleet, Titi Nui.
For the smaller multis of Division 7, with the withdrawal of Ninja, favourites for line will fall to Charleston, Timberwolf and Frantic Drift. My pick will be the smallest, Charleston. Handicap should again be quite a battle, I think this one may go to Frantic Drift though Dirty Deeds and Borderline should be well in there keeping her honest.
Finally, for the more relaxed in Division 8, my pick will be the Hanse 400 Devana for line and with the forecast as it is, she also looks a reasonable chance for handicap. Other good chances look to be the improving Townson 32 Takahoa and the somewhat bigger Senior design, Latitude.
Thanks for writing this up for us Mark!