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North Sails on UK Performance

Predictwind tips new record for Auckland Fiji Race for multihulls

by Zoe Hawkins on 31 May 2013
TeamVodafoneSailing predicted to set new record in 2013 Auckland Fiji Race Suellen Hurling ©

Crystal ball gazing before a race is a sailor's favourite past time and now that we have programs like PredictWind.com to give us a good idea of what is going to happen out there on the blue yonder, it is even more meaningful.

According to PredictWind.com, Metvuw, and Metservice the conditions for the start of the race will be light: Variable even, with less than five knots from the West to escort the boats out of the Waitemata Harbour.

But 24 hours into the race, the breeze will pick up, from a North Easterly direction as the fleet moves up the coast. Once clear of Auckland, according to PredictWind, the boats will probably only encounter moderate breezes.

We ran the numbers using PredictWind's weather routing service* - which helps you decide the fastest way to sail a race - and this is what we came up with for entrants starting on Saturday:

TeamVodafoneSailing

Time to finish: 3 days 6 hr 22 minutes / 3 days 4 hrs 30minutes
Distance traveled: 1192.1nm / 1299.5nm
Corrected finish time: N/A for multihulls

According to PredictWind, an Orma 60 such as PredictWind, will be arriving at the finish line early in the evening of Tuesday 4 June, and comfortably setting a new record. The start of the race will be slow, but by morning tea time on Sunday, the boat could be making speeds of 13-18 knots and high averages will be maintained for most of the race, reaching a potential peak speed of more than 30 knots, on 3 June. The boat may have to hunt for this boat speed by moving well to the east of the rhumb line.

V5

Time to finish: 5 days, 1 hr, 58 minutes / 5 days, 13 hours, 2 minutes
Distance traveled: 1203nm / 1272.8 nm
Corrected finish time (PWC): 142 hours

V5 will probably finish outside of the record time set by Emirates Team New Zealand’s Camper two years ago because the winds - while not ultra light, will be moderate throughout with limited opportunity for boat speeds of above twelve knots until Wednesday. PredictWind suggests that V5 will do best by staying to the east of the Rhumbline. Its maximum boatspeed will be about 15 knots on the last few hours into the finish, according to the PWG model, but less on the PWC model.

Equilibrium

Time to finish: 5 days 6 hours 15 minutes / 5 days 14 hours / 8 minutes
Distance traveled: 1206nm / 1214.3 nm
Corrected finish time (PWC): 133 hours

As a heavier boat, Equillibrium may be best off sailing a close to rhumb line course, says PredictWind’s online weather router. The boat will not sail that much more distance than it needs to, looking for optimum boat speed. In the best scenario, it will be holding 11s and 12s for much of the race, only dropping below 10 knots in the first 18 hours of racing, and for 24 hours from the evening of 3 June. The South Easterly breezes will be fairly consistently light to moderate throughout the passage.

Squealer

Time to finish: 6 days 7 hours 10 minutes / 6 days 6 hours 39 minutes
Distance traveled: 1185nm / 1316 nm
Corrected finish time (PWC): 130 hours

Squealer is the smallest boat in the fleet, but has a great wardrobe of spinnakers and gennakers that could mean, with clever sailing, it gets a great race. The PWC weather model tells the boat to head well west, and the PWG model has it sailing a similar line to its bigger competitors, slightly to the east of a straight line course, but both agree that it will finish at dinner time on 7 June. If the boat does go west, it will sail at 8 or 9 knots for nearly the whole race. If it goes right, its speed will dip down to four knots on the third morning, but will be up over 10 knots for most of the last three days.

Wild Card

Time to finish: 6 days 0 hours 52 minutes / 6 days 7 hours 13 minutes
Distance traveled: 1188nm / 1268 nm
Corrected finish time (PWC): 130 hours

Wild Card will be sure and steady on its race north, and once it clears Auckland should hold onto speeds of 8 - 10 knots for the entirety of its journey - reaching a little higher if it follows the PWC recommendation of heading west to finish in a very respectable time of just over six days.

Outrageous Fortune

Time to finish: 6 days 0 hours 52 minutes / 6 days 7 hours 13 minutes
Distance traveled: 1188nm / 1268 nm
Corrected finish time (PWC): 125 hours

Based on the same polars that we have used for Wild Card, Outrageous Fortune is also expected to finish in just over six days, according to PredictWind’s PWC model. It will be interesting to see how close the racing is, particularly with Squealer, despite having very different performance characteristics, expected to arrive in Navula Passage - the location of the finish line - at about the same time. If Outrageous Fortune puts its faith in the PWC weather model and heads west, it will average slightly lower speeds in the first three days, then see its boat speed bumped up during days five and six, for a terrific result on handicap.


*PredictWind utilises two wind models, and the times relate to the PWC and PWG predictions respectively. For each prediction, we have used polars either for the boat concerned, or for the closest matching boat already in the system, and optimised the voyage for Fastest Time. If a boat’s polars were not installed with PredictWind, we agreed on a close match. Projected handicap times are rounded to the nearest hour.
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