Winning isn’t everything unless you are sailing with Team Machine…
The only thing that comes close to being as important as winning is looking good! – Rule #1!
Andrew has just spent the last few weekends racing another Young 88 called Flying Machine. Here is his report of how this last weekend went… The Young 88 South Island Championship in Lyttelton followed the Royal Port Nicholson Regatta we had sailed in Wellington a couple of weekends ago. Live Sail Die gave us a great write up on their website along with some awesome video footage of the close racing we had. You can read all about that weekend here.
The forecast for day 1 was for 20kts, gusting 30 -35kts, and then easing to 15kts in the afternoon. The day 2 forecast looked light and easy. In reality day 1 was quite pleasant, and day 2 was blowing dogs off chains!
Race 1 on Saturday was a shake down sail in 12kts of Nor-Easterly with the crew finding their groove. We started well and increased our lead on all legs, and finished 1 minute and 50 seconds ahead of second place.
Race 2 was in similar conditions, and a very similar result, with Flying Machine finishing well ahead of the rest of the fleet. Conditions lightened for race three with much closer sailing but we still managed to maintain the lead all the way around the race track. Another first place on the line.
Now this was where reality deviated from the predicted forecast. Instead of the breeze dying, it increased substantially to a solid 20kts. However with wind and tide together it was relatively flat water and Team Machine did what we always do in heavy weather and out sailed the fleet to take the win in the 4th race. Four wins from four races, on day one – it doesn’t get any better than that!
We headed back to the inner harbour and tied up with the other Young 88’s competing in the Knight Frank Y88 South Island Championship Regatta and shared some liquid refreshments and tall stories before heading back to Naval Point Club Lyttelton for a wrap up of day 1 racing and a BBQ.
Some of the Team Machine crew decided it was appropriate to carry on celebrating at the Carlton Bar where the rums were flowing freely and there was plenty of ‘ice’ on offer… 😉
The next day the forecast completely lost the plot… Having had day one far lighter than forecast, day 2 suddenly became the heavy weather action. Updated forecast at 7am was 25kts SW gusting 35kts and when we got out there, the typical Southerly storm was in full force.
We put the main up and scoped out the conditions on the course area, then we headed over to Diamond Harbour to wait for the marks to be set. We watched them position the start line and top mark with interest but no urgency, thinking they would lay the bottom mark prior to starting the race. However as we watched from afar, our competitors were amassing around the start area, it became apparent that the start was imminent and we were a mile away!
With great haste we headed to the start and crossed the line about 4 minutes behind the rest of the fleet. It was very quiet on board… apart from the main flogging and the after guard strategising.
We made some inroads in to the deficit on the first beat. But still trailed by a significant distance. The first boat to round the mark elected not to fly a kite, the next two did eventually. We rounded the top mark and hoisted without hesitation and enjoyed a screaming downwind run, largely in control and gaining on the others.
Headsail up, spinnaker down in our usual slick fashion and back hard on the breeze having made up around half of the distance between us and our nearest competitor. The wind built to a solid 30kts during the upwind leg. With gusts over 35kts we were slipping sideways even with all our weight out on the rail.
We continued to gain and rounded the top mark less than a minute behind. Only one of our competitors elected to hoist their spinnakers on this leg. This was our opportunity to make further gains. We rounded, stabilised and hoisted the kite. Hold On!!!
We now had 35kts solid and were rocketing downwind with over 10kts of boat speed and the crew hiking out the back! Unable to cross the start line downwind, we had to soak down around the start boat on our way to the bottom mark. Our tactician suggested to the start boat crew that there might be a bit too much wind as we flew past!
Then the call was made to hoist the headsail and drop the kite. As the kite came down, it became apparent that one of our competitors who had rounded the pin end of the line was now coming towards us on port tack. As we approached the bottom mark, we called rights and forced them to gybe. The close proximity of the boats combined with the conditions resulted in their mast heeling over between our mast and our backstay. Their boom impacted on our pushpit and then crashed along the starboard quarter of the hull. As they righted their mast caught our dyneema backstay, and pulled it windward until it parted 2/3 of the way up. We then gybed to round the mark, and then paused to assess the rig stability.
Once confident that the mast was not in jeopardy, we cranked on the vang and mainsheet and then sheeted on the headsail to sail hard on the breeze to the finish line. A hard earned third place.
With a broken boat, we radioed race committee and informed them that we would be unable to continue racing, and that we intended to lodge a protest against the infringing boat. Not long thereafter, race control advised that due to the wind conditions, racing had been abandoned for the day.
The reality that we had won the series, seeped through the disappointment of breaking the boat and elation took over as we realised we had retained the Knight Frank Y88 South Island Championship for another year. Battered and bruised and bleeding, we headed back in to the inner harbour and tied up to the pontoon and shared more reflections, refreshments and recollections of the series.