The Guarantee Coastal Classic Report

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Planning had been underway for the race for sometime to make sure we had the crew and the whole weekend in place. Geoff arrived early in the week with a list of jobs to do on the boat, while working in Auckland. Deb, Jo, and Nev arrived Wednesday night to continue to the preparation. Nev had an unfortunate accident with a bottle of Rum being smashed in his bag, requiring all his clothes to be washed when he arrived in Auckland.

Thursday was about getting The Guarantee ready for the race. A clean on the Floating Dock in the morning, and the rest of the crew arriving in the afternoon to help, meant everything was prepared and checked and we were ready to go.

Briefing Thursday night was a chance to catch up with friends and fellow competitor and to confirm that we were part of the SSANZ Committee teams entry in the race. After the briefing it was time for a crew dinner at RNZYS, and then off to Ma’ara to have a catch up with fellow team members and a quiet drink.

On Friday morning everyone was up early to meet at RNZYS for a pre race big breakfast. Our Auckland ring in Gary, who owns the yacht Valium, was there to greet us, and informed us that we had placed a bet of a bottle of rum on line with Tim from the Elliot 1050 Spearhead.

After breakfast it was back to The Guarantee, a safety briefing and then time to get underway. The number of yachts on the harbour was growing as everyone got ready and checked in with the start boat.

It was then time to work out how to get off the start line and which sail to use? Masthead gennaker, or spinnaker? The call was made for masthead gennaker. The start area was like a washing machine with over 140 boats going in all directions. Everywhere you looked there were other boats all around you.

We managed to get a good start in the middle of the line and jump into a bit of clear air. Then as we got closer to North Head the fleet all converged into the same area. So it was time to find the right spot to gybe for the Rangitoto Channel. A nice clean gybe with clear air on the exit had us up on the plane heading north in a good spot, overtaking boats around us.

Nirvana and Spearhead decided to play with each other, and Spearhead rounded up, so we were through. That was the last time we saw them close up, until after the finish.

Aiming for Tiri Passage we settled down into a good rhythm, and the southwesterly wind clock further aft so it was time for a change to the masthead spinnaker. This gave us a good course until we got up to Kawau.

We made the decision to go outside the Hen and Chicks, but the wind had tightened up, so we decided to change to the jib top as we didn’t want to drive as low as a lot of the other boats around us. As we left the island behind the breeze built and Sun Fast 3600 Racing came up and crossed in front of us. The wind built further still, so it was gusting 25-30 knots with boat speed constantly in the mid teens, but we had to drive off more heading for the Poor Knights.

As we got out to the toward the Poor Knights we got a small squall with a bit more wind build, so we changed back to the jib top. This allowed us to point closer towards Cape Brett and we just sailed the miles away for a few hours – doing great speeds, but a wet ride.

At 10 miles out from Cape Brett the wind lightened but we kept the speed up and we actually sailed through the gap with the jib top still on, with no park up. Then it was time to change to the jib, and beat to the finish line. Once we got past Tapeka Point the pressure really came on with yachts converging, watching out for rocks, and trying to find the finish line. We finished at 12:00:39. Just 39 seconds past the deadline Gary and the shore crew had given us in the morning at breakfast.

Once we got anchored, and had a rum in hand we started to find out who we had beaten on the line – with the important one being Spearhead. The Guarantee had finished 51 minutes ahead, meaning a trip to visit them once everything was settled to drink the winnings until the sun came up.

Saturday was spent as a relatively quiet day in Russell, with the prizegiving Saturday night where we caught up with many friends and crews.

Sunday morning it was up early and time to get underway for the delivery back to Auckland. A beautiful fine day but a southerly wind pattern, with only four to ten knots of breeze. It was a lot of motor sailing, but some periods of really good sailing.

At sunset we had just past Sail Rock, and the breeze picked up a little, and as we got down past Kawau the breeze started to drop out. From Tiri Passage down there was very little breeze at all so we were mainly motoring. We arrived at Westhaven at 4:00am on Monday morning – trip complete.

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