Two in a row for Taeping
By 0800hrs, 11 more boats had arrived in Russell. They were the canting keeled 50 footer Sportivo, the iconic expatriate Kiwi boat Ragtime (nee Infidel) and Predictwind.com skippered by Jon Bilger. Another 12 were on the final leg from Cape Brett. 137 of the original 229 entrants had withdrawn because of the uncomfortable conditions or gear breakages.
This includes the SR26 Sound Track, whose crew were safely rescued after running aground in their boat at Mangawhai. Coastguard Shift Officer Mark Fletcher says the boat withdrew from the race and advised that they were heading to Whangarei Harbour. However they became disorientated and ran aground. They activated an EPIRB and made contact with the fire department via cell phone. A co-ordinated effort between the local surf club and Whangarei Coastguard ensured they were recovered quickly and safely. They were already ashore at the time they were found, and the boat itself was recovered intact several hours later.
The fleet has mostly seen 20-30 knots of breeze since it left Auckland at 10am yesterday morning. But it wasn’t the strength so much as the direction and the seastate that caused problems for some boats. And while a few retired due to breakages, most took the cautious option of dropping out at or near Kawau where they knew they could anchor safely overnight or run with the wind for an easier journey back to Auckland.
High profile withdrawals included early leader Sundreamer, Dan Slater’s Line 7 Marine, the hot off the blocks Farr 55, Living Doll and the canting keelers Ran Tan II and Wired.
Taeping was up against more than the elements: Skipper Greg Roake was forced to climb the mast during the race start to fix equipment, forcing a delay of approximately ten minutes, and the boat anchored at Kawau for 30 minutes to carry out more permanent repairs. But the last three quarters of the race seemed designed for Taeping which was able to maintain very high averages throughout the race.
“Upwind we were doing speeds of around 12-13 knots. But when the wind was in the east and we had to plug back out from the coast the seas were too big, so we slowed down to 6s and 7s to get to the coast, then we'd go back up to 13s. We went right in close to the Hen and Chicks, where there were some good gusts in flat water and we were hitting 19s and 20s. We sat on 21 into Brett,” said Roake. “It was just amazing in the dark. The port light was glowing red with the spray coming off the leeward hull. It was unbelievable, a moment to cherish.”
He says that once the boat settled into a rhythm, they found the conditions fairly steady.
“Congratulations to the winners,” says David Griffiths, CEO of HSBC New Zealand. “The conditions were particularly challenging and to succeed as a race winner is a demonstration of their seamanship and tenacity. The day has been exciting and has delivered superb racing.”
The remainder of the fleet are expected to finish through the day today, a long way off the current race record set in 1996 by Split Enz for 7 hours and 20 minutes. The breeze is forecast to return with some strength from the north-west this morning, turning south-west later in the afternoon.
The HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is the biggest coastal yacht race in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the world. It started life 26 years ago as a drag race between Auckland and Russell for just a few boats, and over the years attracted a bigger and more diverse fleet, consisting of grand prix racers, America’s Cup boats, and small family cruisers.
Organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is a race designed for speed: except for at the beginning and the end of the race, there are few opportunities to use tactics to overtake, and success can often depend on getting a good tactical start.
As well as welcoming back principal sponsor HSBC, the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic is supported by some of New Zealand’s pre-eminent marine companies: Donaghys Southern Ocean, Harken, Line 7, Cookson Boats and Sail NZ, as well as the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Steinlager, Maxxium, the Sunday Star Times, Trade-A-Boat magazine, De Walt, Dirty Dog and Yamaha Motors NZ.
|STARLIGHT EXPRESS||25/10 05:03:38||9|
|WILD CARD||25/10 06:15:57||10|