What a week, this time 7 days ago Edwin and I were drifting into the Bay of Islands on Crac-A-Jac, competing in the 29th Coastal Classic Yacht Race. We were also about to be embroiled in the broken mast controversy & coverup, a stunning Wild Days Rum tasting & deliveries, glorious weather and a slide down the harbour on Limit.
In this issue:
Crac-A-Jac – coastal report
Wild Days Rum – latest tasting
Rodney Keenan& Edwin Delaat go rum racing on Limit,
Photo by Me, Edwin Delaat & Crac-A-Jac
My first 2 handed Coastal Classic on the 2nd smallest yacht – Farr 727 Crac-A-Jac
The coastal Classic Yacht race from Devonport to Russell wharf would be my 24th Coastal but my 1st 2 handed. 2 handed meaning there would be only 2 of us sailing the yacht for the 119mile race from Devonport wharf to Russell wharf. An annual event now in its 29th year and the largest coastal yacht race in the southern hemisphere with almost 200 entrants. The race is open to yachts that can achieve a safety rating of cat 3. That means we carry flares, life raft or dinghy, cooking facilities and more. Yachts that take Friday night to complete the race opporate watch systems to keep racing through the wee hours before sunrise. The old scout moto of “Be Prepared” is put to the test in more ways than one.
Our preparation included competing in the SSANZ 2 handed series of 3 races and Edwin Delaat’s yacht Crac-A-Jac was ready and Edwin was keen. Edwin Delaat is unbelievable, a yachtie ahead of his time.
Our 2 handed result and our team work mix is fantastic. Right from day 1 we gelled like we had been sailing together for years. As the race day approach we were both watching the big high in the mid Tasman send us the conditions a little race boat could compete in, the planets were lining up the moon would be full, we would likely have an incoming tide to the finish. A lot of green ticks were falling into place.
The weather was described by Bob McDavit as classic and the breeze direction would be perfect for an easy run up the coast.
Dawn, a great breakfast of bacon and eggs, pack the last of the fresh food and we’re off to Crac-A-Jac by 06:45am to beat the commuter traffic. Load the gear, flake the main onto the boom and head around to wish TeamVodafone good luck for the record attempt, Limit and the class40 were still loading stores, while Revs are still in bed when we leave the viaduct. Once out of the viaduct the main is hoisted and we make our way slowly down past the wharf, check in, and continue on round north head to check the building breeze. Heading back to the start area we are buzzed by some of the bigger yachts also getting ready for what would be a champagne ride up the coast to Russell.
Our Start is at 1020am and we elect to start a few lengths behind at the leeward end of the line to be able to gybe early and get into the first of the breeze out of North Head. Sticking to our game plan we are in very good shape at the turn with most of our division either to leeward or behind. Glamour crew work and smart sailing is keeping us intouch with the big yachts. The only other yacht with the same handicap is already 500 meters behind at North Head and by halfway to Tiri they are dropping out of sight. Geralda a sports yacht of about the same size is enjoying her perfect conditions and as you would expect of a down wind trailor yacht she is quickly sliding north.
Photos by Eddie, @ Nordic Marketing
Approaching Tiri passage the breeze is bending south and a couple of gybes to stay in the best pressure sees us call in at Flat Rock just two and half after the start. We still have many of the big yachts around us, The great thing about starting after the A division is you get to see what is happening to the breeze further up the track. In 10 knots of breeze we are not going to go fast enough to justify adding the extra miles going outside the Hen would add so we tried to sail the shortest route and perhaps put some easting in after passing Sail Rock, our second sched reporting land mark. The yachts ahead are getting rid of the kites as the breeze is bending west. Dropping the kite and going to headsail would be slow for us so we elect to sail high on course and then go back to kite to zig and zag our way up the rumbline, doing this we are able to hang on to the bigger yachts and by the time we make Sail Rock we still have most of the big cruisers behind us.
Photo By Edwin Delaat
Once past the Hen we hoisted the kite and sailed as high as we could without giving away any speed. This meant we were sailing very low towards the Poor Knights. However the sun was setting and the breeze was backing into the south for the knight. A few hours down the track the breeze is only 8 knots and tracking south allowing us to bend up towards The Brett in good shape with good speed and plenty of searoom from those high hills of Cape Brett. Our watch system is working well with Edwin able to get his head down a couple of times and around midnight it’s my turn for a power nap or 2.
The breeze is now only 8 knots in the puffs however the little waves are pushing Crac-A-Jac forward at a good pace
As we approach the Brett we can see more white lights appearing over the horizon. We are catching the bunch ahead and staying off shore a little is now paying big dividends. We call Coast Guard at 04:15am to say we are rounding Cape Brett. The breeze is dying very fast, but we can give the Brett a very wide berth trying to stay in the best pressure, carrying the kite as far as we can before going to number 1 and tacking our way into the Bay. It’s time for my second sleep and Edwin is crawling Crac-A-Jac in the 3knots of southerly slowly picking off the cruisers who are not happy slopping around in the gentle early morning mist. Crac-A-Jac is giving the soft conditions her best shot and we elect to work the left to position ourselves for the changing tide which is now only 1 hour from the turn. This means we are able to pass more sleepy yachties who are too slow to react after a big night on the water. We are still racing hard, trimming hard and working the tide as best we can.
Photo by Col j, more here
Inching our way around Tapeka Point, a place where many coastals are won and lost. Passing the rocks we check our progress against the land to ensure we are still gaining on the finish. Just up ahead are 2 big fat cruising caravans blocking our way, then to add insult to injury 2 big launches who don’t give a shit thunder past kicking up a steep wake and Crac-A-Jac comes to a halt for the first time in 23 hours. Only briefly though, a new breeze is building from the north west and our kite is hoisted and set to capture the gentle zephyrs passing the cruisers to windward we buffalo girl the other 6 or so caravans. 5 sail changes in sight of the finish and we are welcomed with a cheer from the bay and a confirmation from the finish boat. a great sail. a fantastic finish – trimming and working until the end. Thanks Edwin, I didn’t want it to end.
Photo by Margaret (Edwin’s Mum) Crac-A-Jac crosses the finish
A quick tidy up and Sea Harmony offer us a raft up, Jono from Safety at Sea, tell us Edwin’s family are on the wharf and keen to congratulate us on a fine performance. After a settling beverage and a quick tidy up we head for the beach. catch up with what’s happening on shore then get ready for the afternoons celebrations.
Heading home past Sail Rock
more video from other yachts during the race
Wild Days Rum tasting
Rodney Keenan from Evolution Sails is boat captain for Limit, the line honours monohull winner of the 2010 Coastal Classic. After hearing our story, he called me to see if Edwin would like to join him for a Friday Rum Race on Limit.
I get to do the runners while Edwin gets to steer. Almost instantly Edwin is guiding this racing machine to 10knots and quickly showing a clean stern to the fleet. The crew is a collection of locals and permanent crew.
Below, FOC enjoys a settling beverage while multi tasking with the main sheet. All that great Bucks training put to the test. 🙂
Thanks Rodney, a nice surprise to end the week 🙂