Round New Zealand Two handed qualifier - (not) White Island Race.

Rob Croft steers Expedition Coppelia on the wind.
Sally Garrett

The second SSANZ Round New Zealand Two Handed race starts from Auckland on February 25th 2012. A lap round New Zealand stopping in Mangonui, Oban Stewart Island and Napier. The RAYC (not) White Island race held last weekend, provided a chance for crews to complete their qualification miles and a final overnight race.

The White Island alternate course of Channel Island (starboard), Cuvier Island (port), Great Barrier Island (port), Poor Knights (port), Sail Rock (port) finishing back at Orakei was sailed this year to keep the fleet clear of the Rena situation. The course length was 230 nm.

The two handed division was won (on line and PHRF) by Tim Holgate and Cameron Thorpe on the Beneteau 47.7 Surreal. This new combination used this race to qualify for the RNZ. The PHRF handicaps were set correctly with only 7 minutes of corrected time separating second to fifth. Second was Robert Croft and Sally Garrett sailing the Farr 11.6 Expedition Coppelia, a combination that has sailed together since 2009. Third was Bob Cooke and Glen Jeffery on Oracle, another well established team.

A disturbed westerly flow with winds upto 40 knots in the outer gulf provided ideal weather for improving short handed sailing techniques. The long run out to Channel Island saw even the most seasoned competitors struggling in the shifty and blustery conditions. Close to Channel Island the wind speed rapidly increased with both Surreal and Expedition Coppelia taking down their spinnakers and sailing under poled out headsails.

After rounding Cuvier Island and heading north on to a tight reach, greater waterline length saw Surreal extend their lead over Expedition Coppelia, Promise (fully crewed) and Oracle. Robust conditions with gusts over 40 knots saw Rob and Sally sail under jib alone for a while, then a double reefed main. Danaide sailed well during the night to catch this bunch of boats by the Poor Knights.

From the Poor Knights home it was a race against a left hand shifting breeze. Surreal finishing just before 14:00 on Saturday, Expedition Coppelia 2 hours later and Danaide at 17:22. The last two handed boat to finish was the Reactor 25 Wishbone sailed by Trish Lewis and Phil Scott, just after 7am on Sunday, a mighty effort on the wind since passing the Poor Nights on Saturday morning.

Crews completing this race who are entered in the Round New Zealand race were:
Surreal (Beneteau 47.7) - Tim Holgate and Cameron Thorpe
Expedition Coppelia (Farr 11.6) - Robert Croft and Sally Garrett
Pelagian 2 (Stewart 34) - Kurt Boyle and Matthew Burkhardt
Danaide (Beale 11.6) - Jon Henry and Paddy Green
Vingilot (Caviller 45) - Charles and Mathew Bradfield