Epilogue - Expedition Coppelia- Round New Zealand Race
by Sally Garrett on 29 Mar 2012
Sally Garrett describes the 2012 Two Handed Round New Zealand Race:
Rob steer Expedition Coppelia into the early evening, Fiordland - 2012 Two Handed Round New Zealand Race - Expedition Coppelia . ..
The question I get asked often about the race is, did I always want to do it?
The truth is until about 2010, I didn't even know that the race had taken place in 1990 and prior to competing the Round the North Island in 2011, I would, like many of you, thought it would be madness to sail a family cruising boat south of 46 deg S.
In 2009 after the last race of the Flying 15 worlds in Melbourne, on a very windy sail back to shore, I announced I wanted sail Round the North Island Two Handed, I felt it was something that every sailor should tick off. A very fortunate set of circumstances allowed me to achieve this just two years later, racing with Robert Croft in his Farr 11.6 Coppelia sponsored by NZ company Expedition.
We survived what some say was one of the toughest North Island races, finishing the race with a lost windex and a broken oven door. Others were not so fortunate. Our result made the decision to race Round New Zealand pretty straight forward, just a couple of longer legs and a bit of extra preparation. Also somewhere in my head I thought there was only a slim chance of it being as windy on the west coast as the RNI race.
On all accounts I was wrong. First the preparation needed to be much more thorough to ensure that we could survive an incident on the West Coast of the South Island. Our preparations included, new electronics by NEXUS including a AutoPilot, (in RNI we had no working wind gear and no pilot, we hand steered the entire race), all new batteries and a second alternator, beams to support the coach roof in the event of a knockdown, a second fuel tank, more sails, a new rudder.... the list goes on.
We blasted our of Auckland harbor of February 25th , hoisted our Expedition fractional kite quickly exited the Gulf. We sailed outside the Hen and Chickens and both were pretty happy with our progress up the coast, in the 2011 RNI it took nearly 24 hours longer for us to make it to Monganui. We were rewarded with a second on PHRF behind the mighty Truxton.
Leg 2 provided Rob and I with some very new experience - sheltering! The weather decided not follow my plan of being nice with a large storm on leg 2 similar to that we experienced close to Wellington in 2011. Given the number of boats that had been damaged last year (while we sailed through) we decided to take shelter in Golden Bay. This was a hard decision, but looking at the weather we were in a pretty bad location for the next system, and we could ill afford to damage the boat. We completed the leg after 3 days sheltering in Golden Bay, in very light conditions. The highlight of the trip was getting to see Fiordland in such beautiful weather.
Leg 3 was time to find our feet and get back with the pack. We picked the right way to go for the first few days and were rewarded by leading. Truxton and Surreal eventually passed us when the wind was more favorable for those with a longer water line length, or a faster downwind boat. As Chris, Shane, Cam and Tim enjoyed rum in Napier, the wind turned to the north and we spent a full day on the wind with the no 3 and the reefs in. As my work mate, an unfortunate multihull owner told me by txt 'Neptune hates you!'
For the Final Leg again we decide we needed to make some assertive moves if we wanted to get a podium finish overall on PHRF. We had a great daytime rounding of East Cape, then quickly headed as far north as possible, waiting for the wind to shift north. The wind finally shifted and we speed towards Coromandel under code zero, our fastest point of sail compared to Surreal and Truxton. Truxton blasted past us as the wind went astern. We finished at 07:01 on Sunday March 25th minutes before the wind changed to the south west. third on line again, but had done enough to win the leg on PHRF.
SSANZ did an excellent job running the race and in particular I would like to thank Steve Ashley for all his kind words!
While two handed racing is completed by crews of two, Rob and I were fortunate to have a large team of friends to support us, including a group a very special NZ companies that sponsored us: Expedition – Tasman Bay Navigation Systems, Kiwi Yachting, Gulf Harbour Rigging and Enertec are all companies founded and run by New Zealander's and are world leaders in their respective fields. It is fantastic to know that we are using the best gear in the world, which is developed by companies dedicated to the New Zealand economy.