First overall for the Doyle-powered Flash Gordon in the 2013 Simrad Series. Here's their race report...
Simrad Series 2013
Skipper: Stu Molloy
First race of the series and we are keen to get away on the right foot. A bit of nerves and bit of unfamiliarity with the boat and we find ourselves late to the party. We end up being shut out at the boat end and do a nice lap around the committee boat and end up second/third to last off the line … good thing it’s a long way to go. We ended up two sailing along below everyone and started making progress through the fleet. By Motuihe we are tight reaching with spinnaker up and neck and neck with Brix for the lead with the rest of the fleet in hot pursuit.
Next move? Decided to head towards Waiheke shore, wind died out and we all spent the next few hours wriggling our way along the shore looking for breeze and keeping the boat moving and trying to stay ahead of the pack. Later in the afternoon the breeze slowly starts filling in from behind so by the time we get down to Orapui Bay the fleet is all back together covering about 300m from first to last.
Coming through the channel at the bottom end we are to weather with Heaven and Hell a couple of hundred metres to lewd but they manage to carry the breeze through and get a bit of a jump on us through here. We ended up going a bit too high and having to gybe out, could have been much worse though, as we passed Wild Oats returning to pick up their #3 that fell over the side and was slowly disappearing under the waves.
Next is the tight reach across Hooks Bay to the turn for home, bit of a lottery through here but Heaven and Hell do nice work to keep their lead and put a bit of an extension on us. Now for the beat back to Rakino, Stu and I try a few different things trying to find the right gears for on the wind, we start to feel good about the speed but lose sight of heaven and hell in the dark so hoping for the best.
Pretty uneventful beat up to Rakino/Motutapu and round the corner for the lighthouse. Decided to make the call to play the inside shore of Rangi which turns out to not be the right decision with the incoming tide. Through to the finish and Heaven and Hell are in for the win, 10 mins later we are through for 2nd and coming up quickly Slipstream for 3rd.
Lots of lessons learned which would be invaluable for the races to come…
Interesting looking forecast with plenty of wind the prediction, so an inside course is the call from the race committee. Once again we line up in light wind, have a bit of a practise start with Skitzo. Lucky for us one of the guys on the 1020 we are beside politely reminds us that we still have a bit of time to kill… thanks guys! First start looked good so call is to do the repeat for the real one.
Get off the line with Skitzo to lewd and ahead and the rest of the fleet up to weather on our hip. We are glad to be away in clear air and cleanly (lesson one from the last race). We head off towards Motuihe channel and put the kite up for the tight reach out the channel and down towards Rakino. Play the traffic reasonably smartly through here, clearing our air when we can, and put a little extension on the chasing pack behind.
After clearing through Rakino we make the call to play the right hand side on the way to Tiri hoping the breeze will fill more out to the right. We have a nice run down with Skitzo making some inroad on the way down, but we gybe a bit closer to Tiri to get the wind acceleration down the side of the island and extend the lead back out to where we were. Tiri to Motuora, Skitzo make some nice in roads again and we round side by side. Nice work across the back of the island allows the Skitzo boys to make a nice jump when we pop out the other side for reach to Flat Rock.
Lesson number 2 - if you think you should change and talk about doing it on the run, follow through and do it. We didn’t and it came back to bite us in the ass after rounding flat rock in the building pressure. Rounding a few boat lengths behind Skitzo we thought we would head out and see what they do, they tacked early and headed back in towards Tiri… we decided to carry on which wasn’t the smartest move on our part. As we got further offshore the sea state got lumpier and still; with the #1 on we were starting to chop wood pretty hard. The call was made to put a reef in to see if that would help, being the easier option than putting the #2 on. Turns out this gives A LOT of lee helm so the call we should have made at the start had to be done. Quick change by Stu to get the 2 on and we are away again 1st reef and number 2 and heading for Tiri.
The beat from flat to Tiri was pretty depressing, safe to say we were DFL in the Y88 division with a lot of work to do. Everyone else had come round flat and made big gains and our indecisions had cost us plenty. Coming back up to Tiri we started feeling a bit better with the modes of the boat, from things learnt from the first race we had worked out our upwind targets were too low. So now with the different style of thinking we started getting back amongst it with the fleet. After tacking out from Tiri we shook out the reef and got ourselves sorted for the long haul through to Shag. Nice work by Stu on the handle bars and a lot of hiking from me were rewarded with a nice lift from Huey to allow us to lay through to Gannet Rock.
By Gannet Rock we had got back into it with Voodoo, Heaven and Hell, Skitzo and Slipstream all converging together. At this stage there would have been less than a few hundred metres between us, with Slipstream leading the charge followed by us. It started to get dark again at this point and we started to lose people in the sea of red and green behind us. Nice beat up from Hooks through to Shag saw us edge ahead of Slipstream at the island, but not far enough to get the tack in first so Slipstream led around the island.
Both of us were feeling a bit broken after the beat from Flat Rock, so we decided to two sail down back to the corner. We soon decided this was not the right decision as the boys on Motorboat went screaming past. After a bit of mucking around we decided to go for it and get the kite up but it we were a bit unprepared and if we had just gone for it the potential for it to be a cluster would have cost us a lot more time. By the time we realised we were at the corner, no 88’s had got past and the stern light of Slipstream was still in view so wasn’t all bad.
We settled into Stu driving and I settled into my second home on the rail for the beat back up to Rakino. We started to step out on the boats behind and got back Motorboat which I must say have the brightest nav lights I have seen in a while! They rode along with us before peeling off. All the time the little white light ahead was starting to get closer…
Managed to get cleanly around the corner at Rakino with little fuss for the beat to home with one boat to beat. We settled into getting the boat going fast and slowly started to catch Slipstream. After heading inshore on the first race we decided to hang out in the current which this time was the right way to go.
After crossing a few tacks with Slipstream we were around five boat lengths behind at Rangi Light. From there things started to get interesting. We set up to lewd of them by around 10 boat lengths and headed for home. There was a ship coming down the channel at terribly slow pace, this allowed us compress a bit, as it turned out both of us weren’t going to cross it and the speed it was going the wind shadow was going to slow us both down for a while. Both of us tacked away to the other side of the channel and once again we settled into the lewd position about eight boat lengths down and two behind. Coming up to North Head there were a few shifts that came though and with a bit more pressure we were back neck and neck but Slipstream was still a few lengths to windward. By Bean we were just able to get a few feet bow out but we were less than a length apart and Slipstream had to tack away. From there we got a nice lift on the way back and covered the rest of the way to pip them at the post by 16 seconds. Very satisfying to get back into it and very happy to have come out on the right side for the win, Slipstream 2nd with Heaven and Hell rounding out the top three.
This now set the last race up for a good one with the three of us with a few points between us.
Forecast for the day was looking very good with a good turnout expected. Good breeze for the start and the call was made to start down the line clean and see if we could get forward and stay in clear air as the pin end was favoured. Stuck to our plan and Stu pulled it off perfectly and we were off. A nice reach down to Rangi Light saw us set up for the bear away set for the run down to the Ahahas.
Plenty on for the corner trying to keep it on its feet with weight up and get the halyard on to lewd made for some interesting times. We had enough time to look back and see Medium Dry lay it over pretty nicely and decided that looked like the wet option that I wasn’t too keen on. Managed to get the kite up with out to many dramas and we were off, Slipstream and Heaven and Hell tucked in behind. An easy run down to Ahahas saw us round and set up for the beat/reach to the top of Waiheke.
Bit of traffic coming across here; a lot of boats trying to come out high. With hindsight being the marvellous thing that it is we should have done the same thing, and instead ended up settling into our go fast press on it mode and tried to keep our air clean. Not quite being able to lay Waiheke and we had to tack out, but we still managed to cross back in front of Slipstream who had done nice work across on the beat but had taken a bit out of us. The reach across the island was in a building breeze and we decided to do the switch to the two on the run down to Rocky Bay as we weren’t being caught on the 1 again. Then things got interesting.
After having a pretty good series when it came to our hoists and drops we set ourselves up to fail coming into the turning mark, ended up twisting the jib sheets around the pole and were unable to tack straight around the mark as we would have liked to, and as always when it goes bad it goes really bad half way through the tack we realised the sheet was under the hatch….. BUGGER.
Anyway, we got ourselves sorted and started the grind back up to Motuihe. We hung in there with Slipstream up the Waiheke shore with Skitzo behind us doing good work and taking time out of both of us. On the ride to the corner there weren’t too many gains to be made so we hung in there on the way up. After turning the corner at the island we were a few boat lengths behind Slipstream with a Stewart 34 between us. The Stewart ever so slowly started to take Slipstream up and with the tide setting right to left we made the decision to go low and press on it and let the tide do some of the work. This paid off for us for a while but we had a 1020 bearing down on us and we were running out of runway to be clear ahead. By the time we got to the mark we had come up behind the 1020 and the call was made to tack around the mark to clear our air. This also helped in making the decision we had kind of made at the start of the day to play the left side on the way home and use the tide coming in to our benefit. Slipstream carried on out to Issy Bay and we headed off towards Browns Island.
A couple of tacks around Browns and off across the mouth of the estuary, and this stage we were still not quite sure where we were going to end up. After crossing the estuary we tacked over and head out towards Rangi, we got a nice lee bow from the incoming tide and started climbing out of there at a pretty nice angle and things started looking a lot brighter. After a bit of looking around to find Slipstream and Skitzo it was a good feeling to see that we had come out looking good with around 700-800m put on Slipstream. Tack over then a reach in to the finish for another gun, Slipstream 2nd and Skitzo taking out 3rd.
Big thanks to Doyle Sails for allowing us to use the boat and SSANZ for allowing us to be get out there amongst it.
By Paul Stubbs