We needed to make a call of whether to go inside or outside the Hen and Chicks (outside, good) and Cavallis (outside, bad, allowed Miss Scarlet to catch us by going inside). After that we didn’t have quite enough breeze (TWS 12 kts) to plane deep and hold Miss Scarlett, so we ended up with a respectable third across the line, punctuated with a finish-line broach, the line felt a little tight for the last gybe-drop in 20 kts before the solid bits of the harbour met us.
We were fortunate to be able to know the area around Terawhiti well with most of our offshore races being in this area and our timing was spot on for the tide change having pushed the boat as much as we could in the fickle winds. At 1.30pm we’d arrived in the right spot and the right time… the tide was at its peak in the right direction and we managed to hook into 6 knots of tide with 4 knots of our own boat speed = 10 knots over ground!. We could see both Ran Tan and Miss Scarlett only a couple of miles away and became rather enthusiastic to try and catch them, actually overtaking Miss Scarlett at one point near Karori light.
As we got to Sinclair Head, we were really close to the lead. Ran Tan and Miss Scarlett were heading southeast to stay in the light breeze, and just ahead of us was a new inshore breeze line, if we could get across 30m of (very) light patch we’d be in this with an excellent chance of first into the harbour. Little to lose, the 4th place boat was a long way back, may as well throw the dice…
Starting with an A6 out of the harbour in 25 knots that exceeded 40 for just long enough to mess up the fleet, combined with tying the jib halyard over the lazy sheet, all added up to a couple of very nasty broaches and the A6 fabric melted onto the forestay. At one point the A6 was pumping the rig really hard - so the priority became getting the runner on before the mast fell off, rather than getting the boat upright, resulting in a very slow recovery in the harbour entrance and calls to the coast guard.
Then we started doing better, and caught up, not far northeast of Palliser. By now it was very light wind again, 3 knots or so, and a bit choppy.
Then Ran Tan (50 feet) overtook us on our port side and Celadon (52 feet) on starboard. We looked for weed on rudders/keel, couldn’t see any, and figured they were faster in the choppy water and light air than us since we were lighter and shorter.
Several hours later, at dawn, and with much of the fleet well ahead of us again in still very light wind, we saw the big bit of kelp on the starboard rudder that was the culprit.
It was easy enough to get off, then we just stopped in our own private wind hole, for nearly six hours. It was heartbreaking watching more than half of the fleet, which we should have been near the front of, disappearing over the horizon.
The light air torture wasn’t quite over. The restart was delayed until there was at least some breeze, but it wasn’t exactly solid wind.