Boating NZ : FREE TO READ April 2014
T he tactics of sail racing are much like those of gambling – every decision is a risk-versus-reward analysis. In the 2014 SSANZ Round North Island Race, organised by the Short Handed Sailing Association of New Zealand, Tony Wells and Rob Shaw on Blink obeyed the cardinal rule when in the fastest boat: play it safe. Giving away an advantage of five feet to Blink, Wells’ Shaw 12m, Wayne Woods and Craig Satterthwaite on the Elliott 35 Bushido had to play a high-stakes game of Roulette to stay in contact. And the fates seemed determined that Bushido would haunt Blink for the entire race. The light, upwind leg one from Auckland to Mangonui saw Blink work hard to gain advantage to windward, only to have it stripped away later in the leg. “We were sailing higher, while matching their speed,” says Wells. “We thought the gauge we had picked up would pay off but it didn’t. Later in the leg we had to soak back down to them, and they ended up catching us again at Cape Brett. Once it settled into an upwind race we pulled away to win that leg by about half an hour.” Leg two took the competitors from Mangonui, around the top of the country and down to Wellington. Bushido was close in second place when it all went wrong. Earlier they had been the benefactors of an ideal wind shift at the Karikari Peninsula on the east coast which had helped them nullify Blink’s early lead. The two boats were drag racing towards the corner at Taranaki when they hit an underwater object. It parked their 35-foot canting keeler, almost shearing off the canard. “We worked out that we still had about 40 percent of it left,” says Woods, “so we just carried on to Wellington.” As the two leaders turned the corner, the breeze built to more than 30 knots and swung to a broad reaching sprint to Wellington. The mind games began. Bushido hoisted a fractional code zero and took a machete to Blink’ s seven-mile lead. “We thought we were going fast,” says Wells, “but they were having a white-knuckle ride with their FR0 [fractional code zero]. We didn’t know this until they had overtaken us. So we responded and hoisted our fractional zero. We added two knots of boat speed and were reeling them in. Had we known they had no daggerboard and would suffer on the final upwind, we would have carried on and nailed them. But, to ensure we rolled them in time, we went for the A6.” With their storm jib, large jib and fractional zero all plugged in on the bow, the foredeck was a spider’s web of sheets, halyards and furling-lines. In the dark, a mis-run sheet, attached to the unfurling A6, brought about the mother of all clusters. “I created the biggest foredeck mess I have ever seen,” says Wells. “It took two and a half hours to sort it out and, as a result, we couldn’t hoist our jib properly and Bushido slipped past us again.” Bushido‘s broken canard could have been the end of her race, Over four legs and 1244nm, 25 yachts pitted their sailing skills and weather wits against each other to compete in the 2014 SSANZ Two-Handed Round North Island Race. Words by Ben Gladwell Photos by Vesna Wells, Jo Elliott and Will Calver MIND GAMES AROUND THE NORTH ISLAND Onboard Bushido Wayne Woods, left, and Craig Satterthwaite had to learn fast in this RNI. Greg Elliott, Bushido’s designer and original crew, withdrew due to injury before the race, so Woods and Satterthwaite had little time to prepare. They pushed themselves and Bushido hard to keep in touch with Blink, a bigger, faster boat. “Having Craig aboard was amazing,” says Woods. “He took things to a new level. He definitely pushed me harder than I have ever been before.” Onboard Blink Tony Wells and Rob Shaw had a reasonably short build-up to this year’s race. Wells and his wife Vesna had originally planned to sail together, but Shaw stepped in when Vesna felt her broken arm hadn’t recovered sufficiently to race. The winds seemed determined to punish them for making the right decisions based on sailing’s laws of averages. They would have benefitted from more time in the boat as they battled with unfamiliar systems onboard. subscribe online at www.mags4gifts.co.nz/boating-nz 51 FEATURE_Round NI race_April14.indd 51 18/03/2014 4:48:34 p.m.
FREE TO READ March 2014
FREE TO READ May 2014