Auckland Fiji Race: TeamVodafoneSailing slices two hours off record

TeamVodafoneSailing gets off to a quiet start - Auckland Suva Race June 1, 2013

TeamVodafoneSailing has finished the Auckland to Musket Cove, Fiji Ocean Race in a new best time of 101 hours, 5 minutes and 5 seconds.

The trimaran, owned and skippered by Simon Hull, crossed the finish line in Fiji at 1905hrs today, after 1,150 nautical miles of sailing.

It set the previous record in the 2011 race, sailing hard to beat Emirates Team New Zealand's boat, Camper, into the finish line by less than 20 minutes.

The four days of sailing in this year's event offered up a bit of everything, with the boat emails telling the story:

'Nearing the finish, 80 odd miles out and doing it how it should be done, pulling high 20s and bursts up over 30.

Simon Hull (centre) skippers TeamVodafoneSailing at the start Auckland - Fiji Race 2013
'We have had an awesome couple of hours, we didn't drop below 25 knots of boatspeed and our top speed today was 35.4 knots.'

'The upwind slog feels like it was weeks ago now, this is the way to travel. Been a wet white knuckle ride since day break.

'The boys are dreaming up what we will have for dinner that's not freeze dried or noddle cups. And looking forward to a few Fiji Bitters and maybe a rum or two.'

Earlier it was not so good:

'Day in the life of the red eye or graveyard shift.

'2:43am, pull your ear plugs out your alarm is going off, slide out of bunk you are already wearing; thermals, shorts, longjohns, socks, waterproof socks, bear suit, boots, wet weather pants, thermal top x2, fleece, bear suit top.

'Locate and pull on, your rubber seal smock, wet weather jacket (usually still wet inside and out from last watch), bennie, head lamp, life jacket, teather, dive gloves and ski mask, All while your three other watch mates are doing the same in a 15x4ft bouncy castle.

V5 expected to finish Thursday morning - Auckland - Fiji Race 2013
'Crawl out the hatch to meet a face full of cold pacific. Its as dark as the inside of a cow out here. crawl up to the helm, you have 3 numbers to look at, boat speed, twa (true wind angle), tws (true wind speed), you cant see the waves but can hear and feel them, you cant even see the bow, get told to drive 120-130 twa and dont slam the weather hull. Good luck.

'Do that and hold sheets for 3 hours then find the ear plugs again and crawl back to the bunk.

'And we do this for fun! there's something wrong with us!'

And on Tuesday:

'It has been a busy night and morning. We have been on the wind pretty much since 6pm last night.

'It is blowing 25-30kts NW at the moment. The sea state is building and has really slowed us down.

'We have 3 reefs and the little jib up. Twinkle Toes Potter had a woopsie an has tweaked his back and is now confined to his bunk.

'We are trying to keep the ride in the red ambulance smooth, but he is groaning a bit!!

'The boys reckon his groaning is quieter than his snoring so we're onto a winner:)

AKLFiji060613009 - - Start, Auckland - Fiji Race 2013
'Forgot to add that Harry tried to exit through the emergency hatch while changing his socks last night.

'Punched a hole in the window, twas a bit wet downstairs until the grown ups fixed the hole!

'A bit rough for boiling the water, so coffee will have to wait.'

The next boat to finish will probably be the keeler V5, owned by David Nathan, and with Olympic Silver Medalist Blair Tuke onboard. V5 is expected to arrive in Musket Cove tomorrow.

Vision, skippered by Kerry and Steve Mair, also finished today at 1626hrs after a week at sea. Vision entered the cruising division of the race, and reportedly had a terrific time and enjoyed excellent sailing, missing much of the rough seas that other boats encountered.

At 1542hrs yesterday Maritime Radio contacted the RNZYS to advise that Outrageous Fortune, Beneteau First 45 had withdrawn from the race following a man overboard recovery. One crew member had fallen overboard, and another was injured while rescuing him. The first crew member was in the water for 7-10 minutes before he was retrieved.

Following this initial communication, Outrageous Fortune advised that both crew members are safe and well, but that it was prudent for them to return to New Zealand as quickly as possible. Overnight, the boat told Maritime Radio that both crew members were doing well.

The boat will continue to be tracked on Yellowbrick, until it arrives safely in port, and is being closely monitored by Maritime Radio.

The Auckland to Musket Cove Ocean Race is organised by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and is supported by Manson Anchors, PredictWind.com, and TNL GAC Pindar. It started at midday on Saturday 1 June.