Predictwind- Beat them in a Nor-Wester - 2013 PIC Coastal Classic
by 2013PIC Coastal Classic on 22 Oct 2013
At Monday night's awesome race clinic, we had speakers from PredictWind.com, B&G, and North Sails, share their knowledge about sailing in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic. Much was discussed, but here's a short synopsis of what was said:
Team Australia will be one of two ORMA60’s in the 2013 PIC Coastal Classic © Richard Gladwell http://www.richardgladwell.com
According to PredictWind.com, the breeze is very likely to be a moderate North-Westerly, and the weather routing indicates that you'll probably hug the coast most of the way up, and at the speed an average 40 foot yacht travels, the wind will be in the 10-15 knot range for most of the time.
Right now is the time to think about anything on your boat that could break, and to get it fixed - if you haven't already. You aren't likely to need to reef this Friday but most of the boats that pull out of their Sydney-Hobart do so because their second reefing system doesn't work properly.
The best piece of advice we can give at the start, is to be vigilant. The big multis can't sail much slower than about 12 knots. It's great to be on the game and sailing in the front row with speed when the cannon fires, but sometimes being in a good position three or four back, isn't a bad thing: the bigger boats will clear out pretty quickly, leaving you in clear air and in a good position.
Likewise, smaller boats might benefit from starting further down the line (closer to the boat end), and putting in a tack to the Eastern-most point of North Head, for tidal relief and a slight lift. In a Northerly, the area under North Head will be out of the tide, but it will also be out of the wind. Consider sail selection carefully - it may be light on the pre-start, but the breeze will strengthen from the Rangitoto Channel. Will you opt for a headsail change, or risk being underpowered at the start?
Going inside Tiri is the popular choice but taking the outside course can have tactical gains for you hours up the course: sailing outside Tiri and the Hen and Chicks is only a little bit longer but can let you sail lower and faster, possibly even using reaching sails. (But watch out for the rocks outside Tiri). Taking this route may give you a more open playing field, and if the breeze shifts left, any tack back to shore will be a waste of time. Adding to this, there is often a lift off Orewa Bay, and increased breeze at Bream Bay.
Flat Rock is the first 'corner' of the race, and Cape Rodney is the second. There are wind shadows of up to half a kilometre off Kawau, and at Takatu Point, Whangarei and Rodney too - amongst others.
Be careful here - in a South Westerly or Westerly it can get very light as you approach Brett, and there are massive and often unpredictable wind shifts in the zone. In a lightening breeze, you will want to be sailing harder angles, so the decision you made further back to go wide, will pay off, and the later you leave it to close in on Brett, the better. When you are five miles out, decide how you are going to pass Brett.
The channel between the headland and the island is often a turbulent piece of water, and sailing outside is safer, and generally offers more consistent breeze. In a North Wester, the water will probably be turbulent. If you do pass around Brett, make sure you avoid Bird Rock. In a North Wester, you will have a great run into Russell - but beware of the navigational hazards!