Magic Start to the New Year Series

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Wow, what a cracker day Wellington’s third day of summer turned out to be!

The variable forecast gave us a leisurely southerly breeze in Evans Bay. It started out a little cool which had us reaching for our fleecies.

Race 1 for us was a short windward leeward – two beats and a run to finish. On a long start line Whistler got the jump at the pin while we were a bit late at the box end. We had Testarossa overlapped to windward but stretched enough to tack early to port and the favored right side of the course, while Whistler carried on to the middle left. When we tacked back Whistler was intersecting on port and had to dip. I think they ended up in a tussle with Prime Mover so we rounded just ahead of Testarossa and rolled into a gybe set. They gained downhill but lost out upwind again, rounding behind Prime. Bullet to us.

The chill was off the air and I think most of us were looking forward to another couple of races like that (albeit perhaps with different results), but it was not to be.

Race 2 was a harbour course with a wicked short first beat that was tantalizingly close to a lay through from the box, but not quite. We opted for a box end start on starboard while Testarossa did a porty from the pin. They almost crossed but lee-bowed us and controlled the next couple of tacks to round the mark first about a length ahead of us. Big kites to Somes Island mark, the separation ebbing and flowing until they rounded the mark about five lengths ahead.

Now there was a big upwind to the Falcon Shoal pile. Man we threw in a lot of tacks to break their control but they had us locked away. After all the gains and losses, gains and losses we rounded five places behind again, but our race within a race let the rest of the fleet catch up and Prime Mover was looking dangerous.

Big kites now to Ngauranga but in a southerly there’s that big wind hole at Kau Bay directly en route. We tried to hot it up to suck Testa into going high but they covered when we soaked again, and we both hit the edge of the parking lot about the same time maybe 7 or 8 lengths apart. Now Prime is still in breeze catching fast, but aiming for the middle of the lot, which sometimes, just sometimes, gives you a free ride through. Hah! Not this time, punk.

We drifted a little, the breeze going round the clock a couple of times and I lost sight of Testa. I thought they were out and away until Scotty suggested I might try to avoid hitting them. Hotel foxtrot! They are just there. Game ON! We crept forward, needing to break the overlap before the new breeze from Evans Bay so we could hold her head down to the mark. There now, no overlap, and there’s the breeze, we’ll get it first and Testa’s still struggling to fill the kite.

New breeze is on, well forward and we are pressed hard but it’s worse for Testa with their bigger kite. But now there’s a cruise ship on its way out. Soak, soak to get across her track, assume the pilot boat ahead is shepherding us through.

We’re both through, but no such luck for a couple including Whistler, dropping kites to let the ship pass.

Wind is patchy and our lead concertinas. Ahead by a length or two at the mark. Now it’s a beat to the finish. They foot, we point, they tack we tack but it’s not a goody, we’re slow, and they’re through under us. Arghh. Get going again, separation. They tack, we tack on their line, and so it goes. That finish line took a long time coming, but we got it first, Testarossa a minute behind after leading for half the race.

What a chase. Exhausted. Great race, if not for Kau Bay it might’ve been different.

Yeah, we could’ve had a windward leeward, but Race 2 was no less a contest, perhaps more so than the first race. There were just different factors in play.

Provisional results – Airship first on line, PHRF, and Club handicap in both races! (that’ll do, Pig)

A shout out to a new Y88 in town, Danger Zone, sailing both races two-handed – welcome to the jungle.

Thanks to the Start Box team and Caniwi crew – you made it happen.

Photo credit – Hayden Braddock and Deb Williams

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