View Full Version : 4 days of classics racing .NZ.

John B
02-11-2003, 03:01 PM
The regatta was run By the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and the Classic Yacht Assn under an adaptation of the C.I.M handicapping system used in Europe. Basically, the rule favours authenticity over modification and also favours gaff rig and older hull forms over more modern rigs. The adaptation of the rule has upset some people but given the number of boats and the fact that very few can claim true originality, plus the fact that the performance of the individual boats is pretty well known, the handicapping was fair in my opinion. I’m not happy about racing my boat against boats with spinnakers with only a 3 % advantage but that’s my problem. As it turned out, the advantage the kite boats had getting them ahead on the water put them in a hole while we just cruised on and we won one race that way.

One of the nice things in life happens when the “underdog” wins and I always get a thrill when we do well on the water with our gaff topsail rig. Getting a win on handicap would be worth nothing to me if I felt it was just being handed over. No, winding up to windward, climbing over the top of good boats, winning a luffing battle against a good bermudan 30 or 70 years younger.... that’s satisfying.
Still, I must say it was our conditions, light enough for the jib to stand well and take us up to windward. Perhaps a bit more wind would have been good for us as well ,but I wasn’t going to start whistling.
Beautiful clear weather, we started a 28 mile passage race to Kawau Island, one of our favourite cruising destinations. It was light with winds that ranged from about 8 through to 10 or 12 knots. We thought we were doing well as we caught up and overtook some boats in the first division. One of these is ARIKI.
What a pleasure to see her sailing. She’s NZ’s ultimate vintage yacht as far as I’m concerned. 54ft on deck, extremely powerful hull sections, she found it a bit sticky in the light and to be fair, she hasn’t raced for a great number of years. We also overtook the big Fife ,MOONBEAM,the fourth and largest of the MOONBEAMS .
She has a 66 foot waterline and the ultimate evolution of the gaff rig, a gaff marconi mast styled after the 1927 ( last of the big gaffers)rigs.
I don’t know. What can I say. We’re 41 ft on deck. She’s 95ft LOD. She just would not go to windward.
Feeling smug we failed to notice the drubbing the beautiful 42ft Logan RAWENE was handing out to us.
(photo taken another day on a reach)
She slid ahead and had about a mile on us from way to within a mile or so of the finish. The breeze came up a bit , we made some good tacks and finished 50 metres or so behind her. No good to us because we have to beat her on the water with her originality factor, an extremely difficult task. She got second, we got third. MOANA got gun and H/CAP.
Race 2 was a bit of a worry. It lightened off to virtually nothing and the race committee abandoned the race. People like us... perhaps 200 metres from the finish, were a bit annoyed. Rawene was beating us though and really it was a blessing in disguise for us because in the afternoon race with a constant sea breeze we sailed away, did little wrong and finished well in front for a second to MOANA by about 5 seconds. 5 seconds!!!
If only we’d started better, if only we’d taken that boat up, if only that other division boat had let us go instead of taking us up, if only we didn’t have that beer.!
Race 4 was the passage race back to Auckland. Long mate. Long. 11 am start we got in at 7.20 or so that evening. Sailing in virtually no wind in the heat takes it right out of you. This is the race where the bigger boats and the ones with kites drifted ahead and parked up. We just drifted on, 1.3... 1.5... 1.8 knots. It always amazes me that you can sail when to all intent there is no visible wind. Sea like glass.
An outstanding performer in these conditions was Jonquil, the Buzzards Bay 25 sailed by the Pardeys. She was off until she met the fate of the hole and the tide.
We drifted on for hours until a light southerly started, well it was light . By the time we turned at north head we were screaming along in 16 knots in a dead flat sea, overcanvassed by miles and fearing for the bowsprit because of the big genoa hanging off it. Anyway , we finished with it all up but were astonished to see the big Bruce Clark 53 footer, HERMES, blow her genoa out at the clew just a mile or two from the finish.!!!Big loadings on big boats.

The last race was a harbour race . First there was a parade down the harbour in decades of design/build. Virtually no wind again , we had to motor to get to the start line. As we got there a light SW wind started up and we managed a decent, clear broad reach start. The kite boats sailed away again, although we held our own with boats of the same size... a bit behind but acceptable. Once we rounded the leeward mark for the climb back up to the finish it was all on and we hauled back time on most of the boats ahead by taking the lifts and staying high. Sure enough, by a couple of miles from the finish, the breeze kicked in to about 17, perhaps 19 knots at times and had us seriously over canvassed. We held on for grim death until we rounded a passage mark and were able to just crack sheets and power close reach to the finish to win on handicap by a fraction. This last race stole the handicap series win from MOANA although we had no idea of the last 2 race results until the prizegiving that evening. We were lucky because really MOANA deserved the cup with her exceptional sailing over the days.

slow sailing on race 3
imagestation link

[ 02-11-2003, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: John B ]

02-11-2003, 04:33 PM
John, thanks for the recap.

I'm going nuts right now thinking about getting back in to a sailboat. Myself and my racing friends were all too nuts to make it to Key West this year, (next for sure) so this was just what the doctor ordered. That in it was -10 this morning. Burrr...

I'm looking forward to this summer. My Folkboat will be in good shape with some new sails (I just got a really nice Asymmetrical Spinnaker that should be easy to fly and do wonders in light air) as well as a new jib. I'm still using the Melges Main.

I gotta say it sounds like you guys knew what you were doing out there. You don't win a major reggata by chance. Good job!


Dave Hadfield
02-11-2003, 05:08 PM
Great. I'm not envious, no, not me. I get to put a new deck on my toboggan tonight.

I'd've got whiplash anyway, snapping my head around to view all those classics in their glory. Too dangerous to my health.


02-11-2003, 05:14 PM
Thanks John. I tried to find results on the web yesterday with no success. Great!!!

02-11-2003, 06:00 PM
Good show! It's good to sit down and get an uplifting reminder of what we're working towards.


- M

Jeff Robinson
02-11-2003, 06:10 PM
Beautiful pictures John, and great sailing.


02-11-2003, 10:05 PM
Just printed out the tale complete with pictures to read to the family at dinner tomorrow. You're a sailor and a gentleman, John, to bring us this sustaining report. Applause, applause.

Alan D. Hyde
02-12-2003, 10:45 AM
Thanks, John, for another classic post.