by Zoe Hawkins
TeamVodafoneSailing in the Hauraki Gulf
The first day of the New Zealand International Yachting Trust Auckland to Musket Cove Ocean Race could be make or break for TeamVodafoneSailing, which will face an important tactical decision from the very start about how hard to push the boat.
The 14-strong race fleet will pound into gale force winds North-Easterly winds of 30-40 knots, and swells of four metres.
The 1,140nm race still has the potential to last less than three days for TeamVodafoneSailing, but first priority is getting their safely, and slowing the boat down to look after it, will be top of mind for skipper Simon Hull and his eight crew.
'It will be an interesting day and a half,' says crewmember Patrick O'Reilly. 'We don't want to send the boat airborne in big swells, so we will be sailing conservatively but with our eye on the race record.'
The team's forecaster, Predictwind.com says that a high is moving away to the east, with a low behind it sliding southeast. A trough in between will cross over the race course late Saturday and early Sunday, and once gone, will leave very light breezes in its wake.
While most of the fleet are expected to hug the coast of the North Island in the first day or two, tacking out later on into light airs, TeamVodafoneSailing may attempt to get in front of the trough by sailing well east, and popping out ahead and into faster, reaching conditions.
The nine sailors onboard include Owner and Skipper Simon Hull, Boat Captain Kevin Peet, Navigator Patrick O'Reilly, Paul (Casper) Murray, Stu (Disco) MacKinven, Ollie Scott-Mackie, Selby Howard, Paul O'Reilly, and Guy Hewson.
Fiji is the boat’s first stop in an offshore calendar that will take in the Sydney to Gold Coast Race, the RQYC Brisbane to Keppel Race, the Airlie Beach Race Week, and Hamilton Island Race Week, before TeamVodafoneSailing returns to New Zealand for the Coastal Classic and the New Zealand summer racing season.
TeamVodafoneSailing is also supported by Line 7, Predictwind.com, Seatrade, Fusion, Harken, Fineline, B&G, Steinlager, Safety at Sea and Wilde Media.
Followers can watch TeamVodafoneSailing in the start of the Auckland to Musket Cove Ocean Race, departing Viaduct Harbour around 10am, for a 12pm start off North Head on Saturday 4 June, and watch the progress and view live data on her live Predictwind.com tracker at www.teamvodafonesailing.co.nz.