The Balokovic Cup forms part of the Nexus Gold Cup Series, which is raced overnight and on the darkest knight of the month ( no Moon ). The 2013 race course is east 30 miles to Cow caff, then 30 miles north west to Flat Rock, then 25 miles South to the finish off Orakei. The weather forecast is for soft 5-10 knot variable conditions, turning SW the next day and building to 15knots. We would be 3 up on Promise, a Stewart 34, the same yacht Brett and I sailed the white island race 2 handed. Our 3rd team member for this race and the next long race would be Laura Dekker – the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Race start 1830 Friday and the weather gods have listened to the forecast and delivered a light southerly to set our kites to, with a park up just past Browns Island. A trap for the big boats to fall into. Nice work – more about that later.
Huge boatend bias, so that’s our plan, weather boat with room to hoist the kite, stay away from the top guns and pick our lane to Bean Rock. the fleet have chosen to start at the pin fighting and luffing, shouting and barging their way to the rock. Our bowman has been so careful about knot stuffing up the kite hoist he has forgotten to clip it on, anytime you like mate – no rush – today would be good. unpublishable comments from the bow as the brace is set and the halyard is pulled. Having the skipper on the bow is sometimes a challenge, a great way to learn the boat and the challengers others face when maneuver’s are needed.
Up goes the kite, perfect set ( must of been the cockpit crew pulling the strings eh Laura ). As we approach the first corner, the breeze has backed a little sending the gennerka boats high and forcing them to gybe to clear the rocks. Once around, we are able to take stock of the situation and adjust our plan for the long reach ahead to the eastern end of Waiheke. What’s this? The big boats have found a park up in the lee of Browns Island. oh dear, how sad, all the 45ft plus yachts are becalmed and as some of the mid fleet boats fail to get their acts together, more are trapped in the windless hole. Oh joy, one of them is Outrageous Fortune, our friendly competition has parked it and is going nowhere fast.
Some of the big yachts parked in the first hole. Outrageous Fortune is too far behind for my camera to focus on.
Sadly, one by one, the big boats escape the calms and slowly run us down. Next call is to shoot the gap between Ponui and the main land, peel to runner and drift across the Firth of Thames to the Cow & Carf some 10 miles away. Time for the first off watch to grab some rest, puff some sails into a softiss bed, find a life jacket for a pillow and drift off to noddy land. Slip, slap, slop the breeze is lifting off the water and bending north, then east, then gone for good. One by one the fleet catch us and one by one they drift off into the night. On paper, Promise is the slowest yacht. This gives us the lowest handicap and means that if boats are passing us 5 hours after the start, they are having a shocker.
As we approach the Cow, a green light from the black obis approaches us, they are on starboard, we are on port, it’s 1am and as we get closer we identify the misty green light as Outrageous Fortune, yeppie, they are having a real shocker, a real life dummy spitting shocker. Passing within shouting distance a bright light is shone on our sails. They are gutted to see us so close. As we clear the Cow, the Fortune boys and girls have found another windless hole and are discussing there options when we get a zepher of breeze and sail away, again. This zepher is slowly building and we are able to slowly claw our way to windward of Outrageous, set a kite and pace them. It takes them another 2 hours to slowly sail away from us.
Our next corner is Flat Rock, some 30 miles away. Time for more visits to noddyland. It’s just getting light (0600hrs) and the breeze is slowly building. All the boats have snuck away or pulled out. We are once again left to our own devices and are trimming our kite as fast as we can. Not a bad race so far, kite to start, peel to a bigger one to cross the Firth of Thames, little sail change to get around the cow, a couple of hours of wriggling with the headsail then back to the kite for the reach to Flat Rock.
10am and it’s time to turn the last corner and head for the finish. Outrageous Fortune is still within sight about 5 miles ahead. They have headed west out of the outgoing tide, we are a little slower and need to get out of the tide as well, the out going current at Flat Rock is strong and dead on the nose. We elect to tack away from the corner and head more for open water. This move pays off as we hook into a massive wind shift and upon tacking back are some 30 degrees up on our last board, heading towards the Tiri passage. We have made huge gains on Outrageous Fortune (again) as we can see their hull and sails quite clearly. Short tacking through Tiri passage we play the shifts into the beach, hooking into another massive rightie we buzz the dinghy classes racing off Murray’s Bay. The breeze has increased as forecast to 15knots from the SW and we are sending Promise home to finish just before 1600 on Saturday.