Anniversary Weekend 2015

The icing on the cake.

Princess has been a regular at the Mahurangi regatta for several years. This year was a cracker.

Charles with some heavy metal


The Saturday regatta was only part of a full on long weekend for us which started on Friday afternoon off the Devonport Yacht Club and lining up with the classic fleet for the night race up the coast. The starting signals take a bit of finding, ignoring a perfectly good flagpole, the DYC choose to drop division and start flags over the balcony.  Learning from past Devonport starts, we hit the line at pace alongside a powered up classic Tawera who cleared North head just ahead of us. Princess settled into long and short legs along the North Shore in a slowly dying breeze before edging out towards the Tiri channel into the flood tide which was gathering strength. We crept up alongside the 50ft Tawera while the fleet behind us split looking for wind. To our surprise and delight we passed Navy buoy in the lead and cleared the reef in daylight. Pia and Tawera were the next to round, by which time we had eased sheets and cracked a beer. In previous years the big gaffers have run us down reaching into the finish off Saddle Island, this time we had 30 min over the next boat home.  A fine start to the weekend.

The Mahurangi regatta gets better every year. Nowhere else will you see such a variety of eccentric craft. During a lazy morning the diverse racing fleet gathers off Sullivans bay, registration and handicap negotiations take place while swimming, rowing, kayaking, you name it, races take place off the beach.  Pavo, Pia, and Princess lined up among the ‘modern’ fleet, or more likely, anything less than 100 years old.  A swift rounding of the committee boat, due to a minor, on board, timing error, found us in clear air and on a good lift. Our race just got better from there, Two laps of the harbour in stunning weather conditions, and we get our second gun of the weekend. To cap it all, at the prize giving BBQ in the evening, we are awarded the Double.  We can thoroughly recommend the Mahurangi regatta, after all Princess’s handicap is now truly stuffed.

Sunday morning dawned calm for the CYA Mark Foy race back to Auckland. Princess was to be last away. No objection from the crew who for some reason were a little slow rousing. The whole fleet lay becalmed ahead of us in a line towards Whangaparoa. Our big blue 10 knot ‘Roydon gossamer special’ kite went up, set, and with a new breeze we slowly wound them in, all but one, ‘Prize’ who crossed the line just ahead of us at Orakei wharf, but another handicap win for us. Sometimes you get lucky.

The final act of the weekend was the Anniversary day regatta, and for ‘Princess’ it would be part of the CYA harbour series. Last year as a modern classic, we found ourselves in the same start as ‘Fidelis’, In the heavy air back then she just left us standing, this year Innismara was the big boat, admittedly it was her very first outing, and we found ourselves able to out tack her in the harbour, however once clear of North head she just took off on long tacks. To our huge surprise we came together again at Northern Leading, by which time Ranger was also alongside us having started 10 mins later. Where was the rest of the fleet? Focus on the next mark, there are boats everywhere on different courses, spectacular but confusing.  We round North head for the last time on starboard jybe to see Innismara powered up on port converging and flying her massive new gennaker.  We were in with a chance here. She dipped behind us and went off for her own ‘in house’ battle with Ranger.  Two more marks, a melee of boats , a 180 deg wind shift, the finish in sight and Innismara is not far ahead. Another handicap win to us, Princess gets her name on the savoy cup. The icing on the cake.  Charles

Anniversary day Regatta

How many days of 15 knot breeze, blues skies and sunshine can we handle this year! The season so far has been spectacular perhaps because it has been so consistantly good and in contrast to the very windy and wild spring weather early on.

Serious silverware in the form of the Cutty Sark Cup for the winning Stewart the Auckland Regatta

The 175th regatta was no exception and the organisers even managed to dial in a rare easterly for an upwind start of Princes wharf. The whole harbour was a maze of boats crossing each other prior to the start with magnificent classics from Steinlager to Innismara , Jesse Logan, Thelma and many more from our fabulous yachting heritage.

Steinlager powered up on the way to the start

Amongst the huge number of boats competing, there were seven Stewarts, Pia, Palmyra, Princess, Prince Hal, Precedent, Pionnier and Pavo doing what we do best, trying to get across that finish line first!

Princess competed in the modern classics as part of the classic yacht association, and having taken line and handicap at Mahurangi on Saturday, Bill and Charles will be very pleased with themselves and may be looking at a podium at the end of the series. But the real action on Monday was in division 2 with the rest of the Stewart fleet and with a strong flood tide everyone hugged the city after the start, short tacking along the wharves which were crowded with people waving and cheering. For a moment we were all in the Americas cup! The lead swapped constantly on the way to Orakei with Prince Hal leading the charge to Saltworks. The promised NE breeze was trying to fill in but leaving holes and eddies over the course which gave the back end passing lanes and rewards for picking the right side.

Pioneer and Precedent fighting on the way past Devonport
Pionnier and Precedent fighting on the way past Devonport

The lead kept changing around the next few marks, Precedent, Prince Hal and Pavo all looking good for a while and then Pioneer finally began to dominate on the reach up the harbour to the ODM and it was looking good for them too until after rounding the last mark at Torpedo for the run home. Precedent and Prince Hal dropped down into the tide where there was more breeze, Pavo stayed high out of the tide but also out of the wind, Pioneer then had to choose who to cover and with Precedent steaming along in more breeze in the middle, Bill went down but the ebb tide was running at nearly 2 kts, it gave Pavo a chance to sneak through to follow Prince Hal (under kite) over the line.

Pionner crossing the line after four and a half hours on the course.
Pionnier crossing the line after four and a half hours on the course.

Prince Hal entered spinnaker and carrying a 3.5% penalty, needed to beat the fleet by about 9 minutes, provisionally it looks like its Pavo, Pionnier, Precedent, Prince Hal, Palmyra and Pia .  Auckland yachting was at its best, warm sunny and very close racing with the top boats all finishing within a few minutes after 23 miles!

Well done to the organisers and especially to the Stewart crews for participating, it’s a definitely a race to put in the calendar for next year.

Opening Night

The start for race 1 of the championship had 20 boats lining up, the night was dominated by the huge falling tide that punished any mistakes in the top mark rounding and spinnaker handling with the course being set very short to compensate for the dropping breeze.  That meant the downhill was set, gybe and drop in under 5 minutes giving the crews a good work out with the slightest mistake meaning huge losses! The wind held between 12 to 15 knots most of the night with the fleet spreading out across the course rewarding those in clear air before the traffic jam at the windward mark. The top boats and crews showed their form but spinnaker division has Mike Adeane in Psychic first on handicap and third on line with Playbuoy taking line for the night with two guns.

Non spinnaker is looking great with 11 boats ratcheting up the intensity in the competition. Defending champion, Wayne Boberg on Phlyer got the double with line and handicap but there are a lot of hungry skippers snapping at his heels wanting to unbolt that trophy from his mantlepiece,  so there wont be room for any mistakes.  This year it could be anyones!

Everyone is focused on winning with the fleet match fit and hungry, the top boats are going to have to work hard to keep up. The first night is often a warm up as well with more than a few boats having crew changes to get familiar with making the 17th much more interesting!



Useful Software

Everyone has a smartphone these days or at least one of the crew has, in which case it can be pressed into service to help you review your racing tactics or at least provide post match entertainment. There’s a few dedicated apps that run in the background of your device and record your track throughout a race.

Predict wind has Tracker which the race management can set up, and it allows others to see where you and anyone else using it are in the same race.  It’s very similar to the Yellowbrick tracker used during the RNI and RNZ races but with the limited battery, durability and range issues of a smartphone. The SSANZ triple series this year has been running Tracker, and if you go to their site you can see how it works. Probably better in longer races although plenty of competitors didn’t use it, which makes it less than useful in comparing tactics with the other boats in the same division. In race one I simply forgot to start it and in race two, the app asked for $3  during the pre start leaving me fumbling with Apple security questions like what was my first car, was it a Holden or a… Anyway it’s all set up now and hopefully will have it running in the third race.

RaceQS is another app that runs on a smartphone and provides a 3-D replay of the race with various tools to see how you compare with other boats. This looks pretty interesting for using in harbour racing, but only if other boats are using it;

The real value in it may be to back up protests, as well as seeing what the competition did to pick all those boat lengths on the beat.

Another bit of free software which may or may not be useful is something called “Boats” it’s a simple drawing program that allows you to draw boats and marks and animate them. This is probably most useful to help clarify protest scenarios.



This animation was made in about a minute, it may also help if you happen to need an insurance claim.

Navionics is a must have personal chartplotter, not recommended as a primary navigation tool, its an excellent backup in smartphone form and more than a few people have converted their tablets to permanent plotter with waterproof cases and bulkhead mounts.  It has local tides, currents, and downloads weather grib files for wind predictions. A very useful app and one everyone should have on their phones.

“The app will record your track where distance, speed and duration are shown and stored for reviewing later with playback including geotagged photos or videos taken along the way. But, before setting off, you can plan your routes, measure distances, check wind forecasts, sun/moon phases or add markers to key fishing areas you want to target. You’ll be able to save data like tracks, routes, markers and photos and share them with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or via email”

The latest version is free to download but you pay for the extra features you want.

Sailing software is not going to get you on the water, but it may provide another tool to improve your skills, and if you use something that you think might be useful, send Cherry a link and well update this post.

Good Luck!


Smooth as a Babys Bottom!

With the boats being so close in performance, simple preparation for the race can make the difference between winning and losing. A clean bottom is one of the easiest ways to make sure your boat is fulfilling it’s sailing potential. A session on the floating dock can get rid of the slime and growth, but to really make a difference you need to make sure the hull surface is smooth, as in imperfections and bumps need to be less than the thickness of a human hair. Brush on or rolled antifoul generally is too rough, but luckily the ablative types do tend to erode away to a smooth surface, especially if you wipe it with a sponge every time the slime builds up.

The following article has points out the importance of a smooth clean bottom, if you don’t clean your boat,  as you watch the opposition sail past, you can guarantee they will have done theirs!


Class Intro Day

We took three boats of new to the class sailors out for a truly spectacular day on the water. Auckland turned on one of the best sailing days for a long time with a steady 10 kt southerly breeze and an almost summer sun in a clear blue sky.

Princess, Playtime and Pavo all behaved flawlessly with the new crews taking turns at helming, and trimming.  The response was fantastic, everyone said they would be back, with several potential owners keen on racing among them.