The first 12m offshore race boat designed by Rob Shaw, build by Craig Partridge Yachts.

Design Objective: to maximise the performance potential of a 12m offshore monohull, with the capacity to sleep a full crew and with a usable interior. This is a versatile boat, set up for high performance racing either short-handed or fully crewed, both harbour and offshore. Blink is built with racing in the infamous Cook Strait in mind, with robust construction and systems, foam core, and options chosen with the wisdom that 'to win you must first finish' in mind: twin rudders, twin hydraulic rams, and dual hydraulic keel power sources (electric and engine pumps).

These numbers are from before the extra 90kg added to bulb in 2019
Length: 12m / Sailing Displ: 4.1T (8 crew) / Empty Displ 3.6T / Draft: 3m / Keel Cant Angle: 50° / RM (max): 7,687 kg/m / Mast: 19.8m
Fixed prod: 1m / Retractable prod: 2.5m / SA up: 110m2, down: 268m2

Sail Number: 110011 / VHF Call Sign: ZMU2211
More details, interior pics, plans at bottom of page.

Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

Race Results

Blink race results highlights
1st on elapsed time, Round North Island 2-handed 2014 (Rob Shaw and TW) and 2017 (VW and TW)
1st on Line, Round North Island 2-handed 2014 and 2017
1st PHRF Division 1, and 2nd IRC Division 1, Round North Island 2-handed 2017
1st in RPNYC 2014-2015 Offshore Series on Club, PHRF, and IRC
Season Champions RPNYC 2015-2016 PHRF and Line
New Zealand Design/Build Trophy (Muir Vonu Trophy) Auckland-Fiji Race 2016
Race record Kapiti-Chetwodes-Ship Cove 2015
Race record Cook Strait Classic 2015
Race record 2016 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race
Race record 2018 Catherine Cove Race

First on Line:
Island Bay race Nov 2013*, Brothers Race Nov 2013*, Cook Strait Classic Dec 2013* (*beating Elliot 50 canter Ran Tan in all 3 of these races), Brothers Race 2014, Kapiti-Chetwodes 2015, Port Nich Regatta 2015 overall line honours, Alan Martin Series 2015, Cook Strait Classic 2015, Nelson Race 2016, RPNYC 2016 Season Div 1, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race 2016, Mana-Ship Cove 2016, Brothers Islands Race 2016, Round North Island 2-handed 2014 and 2017,
Brothers Islands Race 2017, Catherine Cove Race 2018, Wellington-Lyttleton 2018

29 March 2017

Blink's Round North Island 2-handed (RNI2h) 2017

VW had unfinished business from 2011, having only got halfway around thanks to Tony being injured and some bad weather (that was the toughest RNI ever), and we had a hard act to follow from 2014 of Blink winning the RNI, so we set three simple goals…. Alive, Married, and…, well…, VW had ‘first’ and TW ‘on the podium’.  

So most of that worked out ...

Well before the start, we had the huge job of getting Blink ready.  Our regular Blink team members helped out enormously to do the thousands of jobs that are required to make sure that the boat can do the RNI effectively including going around the island twice; once for the race and once to get Blink there and back.  We are hugely grateful for all the support we received, in particular from Gordy ‘MacGyver’ McDougall and Craig ‘Mr Wonderful’ Shearer who not only helped with all those little jobs but also delivered Blink back from Auckland after the race.  VW and TW sailed 2-handed for the delivery to Auckland. 

Leg 1 – Auckland to Mangonui 154nm, 2 capes (Rodney, Brett)

After a conservative and subsequently frustrating start in light air...

 Late gybe .. boats in the way ... 

Doing OK in light air with A2 here 

... but decided to head back in because are breeze was forecast to come from shore ... 

Might be a bad idea ... Bugger ...

After Tiri, the first leg was the nicest sailing we have ever done two handed. All downhill!  Apart from the parking lot at Whangaparoa/Tiri and various other little frustrating light air bits, to sail in shorts and t-shirt (including overnight) for 158 miles with our big red 200m2 A2 was rather special.  Not something us more southern folks get to experience!

Some catching up to do here again  ...

Cape Rodney should have a bit more breeze from compression - let's go have a look.  

We gybed our way up the coast, even led the fleet for a few hours after heading in to Cape Rodney for some compression of the light southerly.

Now that one worked !

Ran Tan eventually sneaks through a few hours later - in hindsight we were sailing a bit flat 

Following Ran Tan past Brett.  We pushed up slightly for some speed and stopped, RT kept going ...

And suddenly they were gone ... we were sailing too low and slow here, we'd missed the breeze that RT had stayed in

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.

Trying to hold onto Miss Scarlett in not enough wind for us

The hospitality of Monganui Cruising Club, who had worked tirelessly to barely finish their clubrooms in time was fantastic.  They met us with helpers to get us sorted out on the water, and they were also kind enough to also find Blink a mooring at the last minute as we know that boats can drag their anchors in the big tides and currents that run through the bay (Clear Vision got bumped and damaged here with the tide change in 2011).  Our lovely friend Sue Ng travelled to Mangonui from Auckland to be our shore team, bring up diesel needed for the next leg, and help us set up for the big leg - slightly longer than a Sydney-Hobart - coming up. 

Leg 2  Mangonui to Wellington 518nm, 5 capes (North Cape, Reinga, Maria van Diemen, Egmont, Terawhiti).

The Mangonui restart to Wellington was always going to be the biggest endurance component of the race, so we wanted to avoid unnecessary exertion in the early stages.  We went out early, and got set up early and quietly so as to not burn too much energy, and with 8 minutes to the start, right on schedule, VW went to hoist the jib.  Catastrophe! - the halyard pinged off, and got pulled up to near the top of our 18 meter mast.  We looked at each other and commented that it was rather sub-optimal, bordering on quite imperfect.  Or maybe some shorter words to that effect.  Short of going back into shore to retrieve it under easier conditions, or sailing the entire leg with no jib, there was no option - TW to go up the mast to retrieve it, in a hurry. We couldn’t keep our engine in gear during the 5 minute start sequence, making the control of the boat more interesting than ideal.   We had no option but to point the boat downwind towards the beach, full mainsail only, with a bit much breeze (mid-teens) to be an easy proposition with not a huge amount of runway.   TW climbed frantically and Vesna drove and cranked the winch like a demoness – in a few minutes TW had got to the end of the halyard, untangled it from the upper forestay and brought it down.  

Sailing away from the line, towards the beach, faster then preferred 2-handed with someone up the mast

The descent was rapid, with the race started and other boats now 10 minutes ahead.  High fives were managed between gasps for breath and using what little remained of arm muscles.

So then we’re right at the back of the entire fleet.  The FR0 came out, as we’d planned as part of our organised and orderly pre-start, and with Vesna on the wheel steeped in adrenaline, we counted off the boats that we passed, getting to 23 with as we approached the first headland, Karikari peninsula. 

We probably should have put up the A3 at Karikari but restraint and maybe some sudden tiredness won the day, so we kept the FR0, sailing a little high and slow until just after North Cape, then the A3 was pretty good in the rough water even though the angles weren’t as good as A2 or A6 angles might have been, so there were some extra gybes in low 20s wind. 


As we rounded Capes Reinga and Maria van Diemen, our next decision was whether to go inside or outside the Pandora Shoals.  VW has a visceral aversion to anything containing words that even vaguely resemble ‘shoal’, and the Pandora Shoals are especially unpopular, after one of the boats from the 2011 RNI with an experienced SSANZ sailor ended up on the Shoals, and one of the crew was seriously injured.    The decision was fairly straightforward in VWs mind, plus in light air and wanting to keep moving we couldn’t carry the A3 at the angle to go inside. 

Just past Pandora, we changed over to the MHO and headed south down the west coast.  The next day, off Kaipara, we noticed some large and worrying delamination in the MH0.  

With a long way to go and losing the sail looking likely, we took it down and went slowly for a few hours of tough sweaty work while we peeled the sail from it’s furling cable and got some repairs/patches done.   
Slow here, no MH0 - it's downstairs getting fixed

The next day was spent in frustratingly light air, pleasant sailing but not conditions to allow Blink to have an advantage.  We got the expected westerly shift north of Taranaki, tacked and headed back in, still in light breeze. 

The wind picked up gradually, we changed down to the FR0, and then at about 11pm the Taranaki Bight did it’s thing and it got into the high 20s / low 30s. We had the FR0 and one reef, big waves, and strong breeze to broad reach in.  Very much Blink conditions. For a few hours of very dark night, we scoffed chocolate coated coffee beans and flew southeast, skimming over the waves, in doing up to 21 knots of boat speed, making up lots of miles on Miss Scarlet and Ran Tan who by that point were well ahead.  

Made up lots of ground after a lovely zoom across the Taranaki Bight

Just after the hooning started, in the big waves and while Tony was driving, VW noticed that the hydraulic oil had dropped to almost none in the glass sight tube.  VW alerted Tony to this issue and Tony’s response was “hmmm, this might get a little interesting”.  Tony then described (ie yelled over the wind, wave and boat noise) to Vesna what she needed to do…

TW to VW, shouting but not always being heard above the ambient noise (gesticulating no help at all in darkness)…
“Go into the Drawer Of Many Things and find a little spannery type tool – you’ll see it.  That’s the tool you will need to lock off the hydraulic rams.  Then go under the galley sink and towards the back, there are four bolty looking things, the valves, that you will need to put the tool onto and turn through 90 degrees – upwards I think, but you’llonly be able to turn them one way so whatever that it, it’ll be right.  Make sure you turn all of them to 90 degrees you will know when it locks. ”  That locked our keel hydraulics to mitigate how much fluid we lost, with none the keel would flop around (very dangerous!), they could stay locked as there was no need to gybe or change cant for a while.    VW’s response – a slightly highly pitched “ok”.

With the keel locked, we only had another 4 litres of hydraulic fluid that we carry as spare and about 250 miles left to sail to Wellington.  We were safe for the moment as it didn’t look like we needed to gybe until the morning, but there was a significant adjustment to our strategy, we couldn’t really afford to cant our keel...  We would need to assess whether we then centred the keel and locked it there, depending on how much of the remaining fluid fell in the glass on our next cant. 

In the morning (now daylight) it was time to gybe and we decided to centre the keel as the wind conditions had dropped a bit. This, and the strategic implications that came with it, was a significant disadvantage - but there was no choice, we had to get home to Wellington and finish the leg.

While moving to the wheel somewhere between Kapiti and the Brothers, VW slipped on a sheet and fell in the cockpit, complaining that she had hurt her leg but mostly her shoulder was sore.  A couple of neurofen and a few tissues and a hug from TW later, she picked herself up and continued to drive, although quite sore and tired. 

Ran out of wind for a bit here too ... current taking us northwards

This is roughly where VW hurt her shoulder ... 
Note Ran Tan's horrible course, being pushed about by the current in no wind 

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.

Doing the big catch up - local knowledge pays off

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…

Decision time -- Take a chance of 1st vs a pretty definite 3rd ...?  Yep ...

Not looking good at all 

Bugger !

We lost that gamble, badly.  Ended up getting stuck in a hole for a couple of hours while the first two disappeared and finished. We tried everything we could (short of what we really needed, canting the keel to leeward), with what energy we had left.  Eventually, just before the tide changed and carried us in the wrong direction for a few hours, we found a puff of breeze and got moving slowly to the harbour.  On the way in we hoisted our A2 for a few miles, but without keel cant we couldn’t go in the right direction so that didn’t last long. 

We ended up 3rd on line and 1st on PHRF for Div One in our hometown.  Given the dubious start at Mangonui  hours of going slow doing MH0 repairs, a hydraulic leak and no canting after Taranaki, and Vesna being injured, a really great result. 

We were met at the dock by family and friends including Dely, TWs mum.  Our friends Dave and Anna delivered hot pies and delivered beer and coke zeros, in ice. The beers were almost as nice as the joy of plunging fiery sore hands into the ice bag.  It was great to finally be home.   Suggestions were made to VW about X-Rays for sore shoulders, but there was no way she was opening the prospect of missing the rest of the race.

Gordie helped us out (again) – with a temporary solution to the leaking hydraulic ram, involving a combination of minimising loss around the seal, and carrying most of the western world’s hydraulic oil supply.   Still restricting, but much less so than it was.

Leg 3  Wellington to Napier 205nm, 2 capes (Palliser, Kidnappers) and misery

Our ‘Legus Horribilus’; way too windy just after the start, and then way too windless for all of the rest. 
just before leg 3 start

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.  
Stopped here, on our side ... doesn't look like it on the tracker

and slow while we sort out the (big) mess

We got up and sorted pretty fast after that, but then lacked the appetite to use the FR0 as we should have across Palliser Bay, meaning we got to Cape Palliser in the wrong place and ended up in the back of the fleet again.

Made up some ground slowly by here, but FR0 would have had us faster and further from the windless hole in the corner

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.

Back in the game here, thanks to the Post-Palliser-Park-up

 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.

Weed on rudder here, so we're much slower than we should be - but we didn't know, couldn't see it at night with torch and reflections from water surface, didn't find it until the morning  

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.

After we got the weed off, then we were in the wrong place, and stopped
 .. these 2 pics are a perfect demonstration of how bad our wind hole was ...

After that we worked really hard, trying to catch the fleet and hoping there would be another opportunity to get back into the race, but that didn’t happen, and last on handicap for that leg was not a surprise.  

Coming into the finish -- Blink at normal speed in some breeze at last, catching one more boat before the finish

To add insult to injury, we had to wait out in the bay for the tide to come in at Napier so we could get into the marina for a few hours.   At least there was no wind and it wasn't cold while we waited. 


Speaking of Injury, VWs shoulder continued to be very uncomfortable.  Mention of XRs was made again...

Leg 4, Napier – Auckland, 367nm, 3 capes (East Cape, Runaway, Colville)

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.  
 Wedgetail (purple) lucky to be not too disadvantaged by the trip back to the lift to sort out their prop 
- rest of us going very slowly here ...

 We were very slow to get our Code 0 working but eventually we did and eventually got out near Mahia where it was only 20-25+ knots wind speed but the sea state was pretty unpleasant.

We took an embarrassingly long time to work out why we were slow in the rough weather, the hydraulic oil level hadn’t changed much, but the pummeling and bouncing had pushed the keel back to centre and we weren’t canted at all.  Once we worked that out … off we went.

We slipped through inside East Island since the sea state had unexpectedly settled at East Cape. 

The run across the Bay of Plenty was nice; fast breeze 2-sail reaching in solid with boat speeds usually in the mid-teens.  

From the Mercury Islands to the Colville channel we parked again, it was really slow and frustrating all the way through to Cape Colville.  

So the relief when we had enough wind to put up the A2 and move in a straight line towards the finish line was significant.  

We had enough breeze for the rest of the way in.   VWs shoulder was still a problem but we were managing pretty well.

We had very nice greeting in Auckland, and amongst all the folks who were there, a nice chap called Rob turned up…  he turned out to be quite handy as he knew Blink quite well, mostly because (a) he designed her and (b) he’d won the RNI on her last time. 

NB Back in Wellington, Vesna's shoulder X-Ray showed the (not just a crack!) clavicle fracture very nicely ...

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