And so it was. At dawn on Good Friday things were not good for us. Josh Hayter's well sailed Young 11 Clear Vision was threatening to get further south than us as we headed inland. The Thompson 38 Codebreaker team had stuck with us all night, sometimes ahead, making great use of their Code 0 and narrow waterline, also heading south as we sailed at almost 90° to the rhumb line. With nearly half of the race over and with the rest of the fleet's handicaps significantly lower than Blink's, we figured we'd be well off the podium.
Then the new NE, compressed by the Kaikoura ranges - the reason we'd suffered to head inshore - started. Up went the A2 for one of the most pleasant day's sailing for a long time.
Heading in towards Clarence River Mouth
Flat water, TWS 12 built slowly to 15 and then to 20 knots throughout a lovely sunny afternoon. We gybed out when we were running out of water, then back in again as the breeze softened away from the land, almost to Kaikoura, then back out again to ride a gradual lift down the Canterbury coastline.
This breeze steadily built through the day, and it seemed the other boats that had stayed further out were missing out, by late afternoon we'd put ~50 miles on the rest of the fleet.
Sunset in Pegasus Bay
Sunset with the A2 still up
... moon up ... full, of course, it's Easter.
The wind built further, soon just after sunset we had a hectic moonlight ride in high 20s to low 30s windspeed with the A2 and a full main still up. Not really wise, but fast as long we kept the boat upright, which we mostly did.
We deduced eventually that was definitely too much sail and we changed to the A4 and put a reef in. Same 18-23ish boat speeds, and much more sensible for uprightness. We had to gybe in the dark and, given that we expected to do badly on handicap results so we didn't need to push it toooo hard, decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour (cowardice might have been the better part of discretion too?).
So we dropped the A4, gybed, and hoisted the A6. Now slightly underpowered but well in control which was just as well because we were converging on the harbour entrance with a container ship. Frustratingly ... we'd been watching the lack of change in compass bearing for a long time since we were both doing 18ish knots. We decided to drop our kite - maybe temporarily - to let them go ahead, slowing down to about 12 knots. The ship then also slowed to take on the harbour pilot. Still on a collision course :-( ... So we sailed slowly, badly, deep downwind with only a jib up at the front for a few miles while we got into the harbour. Eventually we ducked behind the ship, unfurled a FR0, and sped up a bit. But it was the wrong sail so we tried to get the A4 back up but this was slow to organise and we ended up just going slow over the line. No matter we thought, we're not really in the running for the prizes anyway, so what if we lost maybe 20 minutes or so in the harbour entering debacle.
But, as it turned out, the combination of our heading inshore to pick up that breeze early in the day, and the wind dropping as the rest of the fleet got to the harbour entrance, meant we ended up winning on handicap by healthy margins, ~35 minutes on Port Nich Handicap and nearly an hour on PHRF. [Handicapping committee: please note that result is clearly an outlier due to fickle weather conditions :-) !]
Team: Gordie, Craig, Jason, Alex, Cobbie, Fletch, TW. Sadly no VW as knee still not quite ready.