Crew: Geoff, Tunch, Eduardo, Pien.
“Have you ever done the Nelson Regatta?” Tunch asked me back in November last year. No, I hadn’t but I’m always up for new challenges for Halo so I looked into it. The Nelson Regatta is an annual event run by the Tasman Bay Cruising Club which includes an overnight anchorage in the Abel Tasman National Park. A number of Wellington boats sail over every year to join in the fun. I decided we should give it a go.
With Tunch and Peter we crossed the Cook Strait on 12th Jan via Cape Koamuru and cruised at a leisurely pace via French Pass arriving at Nelson Marina on the 15th.
Eduardo and Pien joined us on Saturday 19th. After dinner on the boat that night we all visited the TBCC club house for the social evening. Other Wellington boats there for the regatta included Gucci, Bullistic, 88% Proof etc. Halo was the only boat entered that was flying the EBYMBC burgee and with a handicap of 0.6017 was second to bottom of the TCF list.
DAY 1 – Sunday 20 Jan – Tasman Bay Coastal race
Unfortunately we woke to high winds in the Nelson area and at the briefing in the TBCC club house at 9.30 am it was announced that all racing for that day was cancelled. Such a shame after the beautiful weather we had enjoyed in Nelson over the last few days. To cheer up a somewhat despondent Halo crew we spent an enjoyable afternoon walking round the coastline to Tahunanui Beach where we had a lovely swim in the sea.
By the time we got back to the marina the wind had dropped somewhat so we decided to take Halo out for a pre-regatta practise sail. We cast off from the marina at 1640 hrs with the No. 3 Jib and Mainsail rigged. Crew positions were allocated as: Geoff on helm, Tunch on bow, Eduardo on starboard trimmer and keys, and Pien on port trimmer and keys. The mainsheet to be handled by Eduardo or Pien depending on which tack we’re on.
Once we sailed out into the inner harbour we found it was colder and windier than expected. Jackets went on as well as one reef in the Mainsail. We headed out through harbour entrance known as The Cut. This was dug out in 1906 when the early settlers wanted to open up the enclosed harbour to shipping.
Once out of the harbour we found the seas and wind were too rough to be enjoyable so turned back into the inner harbour and sailed northwards in challenging conditions with wind 30 kts gusting to 40 kts. We soon made our way back into the marina arriving at our berth at 1900 hrs. A pretty wild sail but we all agreed that it was good to get out and have a warm-up for the big race tomorrow.
DAY 2 – Monday 21 Jan – Nelson to Torrent Bay race
We woke to a lovely morning in the Nelson Marina and what appeared to be perfect conditions for our big race to Torrent Bay in the Abel Tasman National Park. Sunny with 15 kts southerly breezes. Exciting!
After a hearty breakfast we attended the race briefing. Geoff entered all the course coordinates onto our OpenCPN and we cast off from the marina berth at 0915 hrs with the No. 1 Genoa and Mainsail rigged.
We motor-sailed out to the start line which was 2.5 miles out from the coast. The start time for the 12 boats in the Cruising Division was delayed to 1015 hrs. We had good start with only about 4 boats ahead of us as we sailed close-hauled in the direction of Abel Tasman National Park. We started feeling some good sized gusts coming through but didn’t think too much of it initially. Pien was doing a good job on mainsheet to manage them. The wind however kept on increasing up to 25 gusting 30 kts and getting harder to manage. We put a reef in the mainsail and heard the announcement from the RO Paul Davies on Ch. 77 that the race had been cancelled and that all boats must return to their berths at the marina.
We dropped the Genoa and turned back towards Nelson. The wind kept on increasing to 45 kts as we put a second reef in the mainsail to be safe. Even with 2 reefs and no Genoa we were still sailing at up to 8 kts. Exciting stuff.
We eventually arrived back in the berth at 1155 hrs safe and sound.
That night we had a party on Halo with some crew from other boats including David and Wendy from Sirrah and Jim came down too. Geoff got the ukulele out. Fun and singing was enjoyed by all!
DAY 3 – Tuesday 22 Jan – Torrent Bay to Tonga Island race, Tonga Island to Nelson race
Unfortunately the high winds continued through the night into the next day and the Race Officer announced that all racing was cancelled and that was the end of the regatta. First time in 10 years that all three days of the regatta have been cancelled.
At least Halo won a Spot Prize the next morning at the ‘prize-giving’ ceremony!
The next day Tunch and Pien joined Gucci to sail back to Wellington. Geoff stayed on in Nelson another day to do some boat maintenance before flying back to Wellington. Halo remained on the mooring in Nelson pending our return for some cruising in Abel Tasman and back to Wellington.