Auckland Fiji Race: Triple reef as headwinds slow leaders' progress

Squealer - Start Auckland Suva Race June 1, 2013

Strong headwinds and building seas have slowed progress for the race leaders on Day 4 of the Auckland Fiji Race.

The leaders are now well past the halfway mark, and the first of the cruisers, Vision is expected to arrive in Fiji tomorrow.

It was a question of safety first for the 55' Equilibrium yesterday when they decided to withdraw from the race to Fiji, after the boat's alternator failed.

As with many modern and highly technical boats, power is critical to running some of its systems.

Equilibrium is now about 150nm from the safe haven of Opua, and once the boat is repaired, will decide whether to continue its northwards sail.

Meanwhile, life aboard TeamVodafone is busy, as they nurture the trimaran through difficult seas..

'We have been on the wind since 1800hrs yesterday,' wrote Patrick O'Reilly earlier today. 'It's blowing 25-30 knots NW at the moment. The sea state is building and it has really slowed us down. We have three reefs and the little jib up.'

One crewman has a back injury and is confined to his bunk, and repairs have also been made to a broken window.

According to PredictWind's weather router, TeamVodafone could make it to the finish line in as little as 31.5 hours, but they need to decide whether to sail directly north, or to take a wide course to the North West. The breeze should moderate this evening, and on arrival in Fiji will be less than ten knots, from the SouthWest.

The crew are tired but in good spirits, and looking forward to calmer seas and hot drinks.

V5 is now the first keelboat on line, about 175nm behind TeamVodafone, and 541nm from the finish, headed North East. PredictWind says V5 has 54 hours left to finish and will probably have to tolerate stronger Northerlies until tomorrow when it swings West and eventually to the South, closer to Fiji.

Squealer, Wildcard and Outrageous Fortune have continued to sail as a trio, all heading North East now, but with the bigger boats showing what waterline does in these conditions.

For the latest positions see www.rnyzs.org.nz