Wineworks Cook Strait Race – 1 Dec 2017

Crew: Geoff Head, Murray Thomas, Grant Timlin, Eduardo Villouta.

Forecast: Light northerly to start picking up during the race. 15-20 kts

We had sailed Halo across Cook Strait to Waikawa the previous day (Thursday 30 Nov) and berthed in the Waikawa Marina for the night.

At 7pm the Waikawa Boating Club held the pre-race briefing at the clubrooms. Very well organised event with all the information we needed including the Handicap table for all boats. Halo was at the bottom of the handicap list at 0.6400 together with Owhiro Lady. We were obviously going to be one of the slowest boats in the race. We handed in our completed Coastal Voyage Form and picked up our Race Information Pack with banner and the complimentary bottles of St Clair Family Estate as well as the padlocked ‘black box’ containing the special delivery of wine to be taken to Wellington.

The race was timed to start at 9.30 am at the Entrance of Tory Channel so we set our alarms for 5.30 for a 6.00 am getaway from Waikawa Marina.
By 0600 hrs we had departed Waikawa and were enjoying the early morning views of Queen Charlotte Sound while we ate a hearty breakfast and motored out to Tory Channel in convoy with all the other yachts. Arrived at Okukari Bay just inside the Tory Channel Entrance at 0840 hrs. All boats had to radio ‘Pacific Eagle’ on VHF 77 to confirm they are racing, advise total POB, if there are any changes to the submitted crew list, and receive acknowledgement from a WBC official. At about 0915 we all followed Pacific Eagle out through the Channel Entrance towards the start line off Ruakawa Rock, just north of the entrance.

There was some confusion on the start time. We understood the start was at 0930 and were expecting a 5 min warning at 0925 but we eventually realised the race start time was 0935 with the warning at 0930.

Anyway off we started, somewhat behind the main bunch. The boats in front were hoisting their spinnakers in the light northerly so we (quickly as we could) prepared our kite. However by the time we were ready to hoist, the wind had picked up and all the leading boats were already dropping their kites.

We sailed on a beam reach across Cook Strait with the No. 2 Genoa and full Mainsail at a fairly good speed of about 7 kts SOG. We noticed some boats heading much further south and others further north. We decided to play it safe and head down the middle! As we passed Thoms Rock we were doing 9 kts SOG but Halo and a couple of other boats were now trailing well behind the pack.

Great excitement as we were going through Karori Rip towards Sinclair Head we noticed that we were quickly catching up with all the other boats which appeared to be becalmed! We eventually entered the calm patch just off Sinclair Head at 1220 hrs and barely moved for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, of course, the leading boats were off leaving us behind again. We took some comfort in a couple of boats still behind us.

The northerly quickly built up to 20 kts gusting to 27 kts as we were passing Lyall Bay towards the Heads and we were probably over-powered with our No. 2 Genoa and no reef in the Main. We decided however to press on in the expectation that the wind would decrease once we headed into the harbour. Had an exhilarating sail passing Barrett Reef Buoy at 1410 hrs avoiding the Straitsman which was coming out. All boats had to radio into race control at Port Nick Sports Ch. 62 when rounding the buoy. We then tacked up Wellington Heads with Grant doing a great job on helm. Passed Point Halswell at 1525 hrs. Excited to see we had overtaken Bavaria on the final tack!

Called in to race control again when passing Point Jerningham and sailed down towards Port Nick Yacht Club passing the finish line at 1549 hrs. We made it!

At the prize giving that night we were excited to discover we’d won 16th place on handicap out of 39 boats. Well done Halo and her super crew, Geoff, Murray, Grant and Eduardo! It was a great race which we all thoroughly enjoyed. (Thanks to Eduardo for photos).

Comments are closed.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: