The Rangitoto Cruising Race followed on from the success last year of the Stewart 34 ‘s “Old Fox” cruising race and Summer get together which is primarily aimed and getting cruisers involved with the class. Geoff from Panacea kindly offered his family’s batch at Rangitoto to the Stewart 34 Association so we could have a BBQ and prize giving event after a casual race.
Jan 18 was decided on as probably the only weekend were something else was not on and fortunately the weather played ball for us. Being early after the Christmas holidays the sailing instructions come out a few days before the race and there was some confusion about the format, it does help if you read them properly, but being a cruising race they did not get the attention they deserved, only a few boats showed up at the start line and no one was sure how many boats had decided to enter. Geoff from Panacea set off early with the dinghy in tow ( complete with Gas BBQ tied in ) to get the Reception area setup. The crew from Precedent choose to take out Trevor Morris’s newly acquired “Polaris” for a spin as the boat has been in Cruising trim for a number of years, Trevor was still working out what all the ropes do and he was keen to see how she went.
Princess and Polaris turned up at the start line, guns went off and flags were raised so Polaris took off, Phonecian appeared from under the harbour bridge at exactly the right time and joined the race, Bill Falconer who was in the Tower and not competing due to some poor excuse promptly got on the phone to the Precedent crew to inform them they had started 30 mins too early but could only get hold of Barry who was also not competing….confusion still reigned. Phantasy then showed up at the start line and started with Princess at about the right time and the race was now in full swing. Only Phonecian, Polaris and Princess decided to go around Rangitoto while Phantasy and Panacea went straight to Izzy bay in to complete the cruise aspect of the race
About North Head the slight SW breeze allowed a Spinnaker to be flown so the crew on Polaris decided to test one of the 2 onboard that come with the boat. One was selected ( turned out to be the No. 2 ) and as the bag seemed in order promptly connected and hoisted to the top. The previous owners were obviously a very careful bunch and had taken the time to tie up the spinnaker with woollen ties ( not sure how long ago ) but due to their age and the slight breeze they did not want to become untied. It took some serious pulling and tugging from the foredeck to eventually break them and get the Spinnaker flying, but up she went and all was well.
Phonecian was taking things a lot more easily and were 2 sailing along at about the same speed. Princess could now be seen coming up from behind and were soon they were flying their no. 1 spinnaker. Smooth sailing ensured until the boats got around Motutapu and the breeze died away in the wind shadow, the tide was going out and the windward work began. Polaris’s main had obviously not done any windward work in awhile and was shaped like a spinnaker, in an effort to try and get the shape a little flatter a reef and then 2nd were put in. Although this did succeed in unblocking the slot the sail power was severely reduced and progress was painfully slow. Phonecian was also struggling due to the lack of wind but Princess who knew the right people had a breeze of their own and sailed along the shore out of the tide and into the lead. The Polaris crew had a short conference and decided the best course of action in this situation was to throw the anchor overboard and get the fishing rods out, this was duly done and undersized snapper were soon leaping aboard.
Phonecian and then Pizzacato floated past us while we endeavoured to add to the BBQ sausages but as the snapper were playing as tough as the wind that day we gave up and motored around the point into Izzy Bay. It was great to see a few more Stewarts had decided to make the trip and we ended up with 10 boats altogether, which was a solid turnout.
The tide being low made the trip ashore a bit tricky with the Oysters and rocks but as there were plenty of hands about all were soon ashore. The BBQ was fired up and everyone settled in for the evening. Princess took out the Spinnaker Division and Phonecian the non Spinnaker but the focus was really on a get together and it was great to see the families out and enjoying themselves
Thanks to Geoff who made the family batch available to us, it was interesting to learn about the history of the place, it felt like a step back in time but it was a great day out and something I think we could make a permanent fixture in our calendar