Noumea Race starts in light winds, but strong headwinds to come

TeamVodafoneSailing is chased by Beau Geste - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

The Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012 Race got underway in light winds on the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, early this afternoon.

Light conditions meant slow progress for the 17 boat fleet which started off the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in 5kt winds.

The ORMA60 trimaran, TeamVodafoneSailing (Simon Hull) and the 80ft Beau Geste (Karl Kwok) tussled for the lead right from the start and at the latest report were still side by side, with TVS having a slight edge.

Of the group of 50fters, V5 (David Nathan) was third in the fleet, courtesy of a good start enabling her to build a handy lead over Kia Kaha (Chris Homail) and Akatea (Gary Lewis).

NOU020612 (3) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

At 2300hrs on Saturday night the fleet leaders had progressed to Whangarei Heads, having been only at TiriTiri Matangi Island 18nm from the startline at 1800hrs.

The light winds are expected to last for another 24 hours at least, before the breeze increases substantially to 25-27kts average, with 2-3metre seas. The winds will be ahead of the fleet before swinging to the NW and West.

However despite the gloomy forecast, the leaders are only expected to spend 25% of the predicted time of 4.5days sailing to windward and the majority of the race (70%) will be spent reaching.

NOU020612 (29) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

The star of the beautiful Auckland Day was undoubtedly Steinlager 2, racing for the first time in her new guise as a training and adventure racing yacht. She was sailing well at the latest report being about 6nm behind the group of 50fters. Sailing in light headwinds with her ketch rig, is not the strongest point of sailing for the Round the World racer. She will come into her own in the strong headwinds that lies ahead of the fleet, and the reaching conditions.

At this stage TVS is expected to finish the race in 2.5days, and should be in Noumea on in the early hours of June 5, 2012.

The next group of boats are expected in Noumea two days later. TVS will miss the expected strong headwinds but instead is currently predicted to have a very fast final 24 hours with average boat speeds of over 30kts predicted for the 60ft trimaran.

NOU020612 (15) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (1) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (17) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (27) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (24) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (9) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (7) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (5) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012

NOU020612 (4) - Start Evolution Sails Sail Noumea 2012
http://www.sail-world.com/97955