Pearl Channel Race to Connapaira
The longest day Bay Race round the Pearl Channel Buoy (unlit Red) and M3 (flashing Red) is always hard, but the latest, Sunday 21st September was hard and long and fluky. In typicial light Bay weather, many strange things happened and as usual under these conditions, the smaller tri;s scored well.
Leigh Wynne, skipper of Wahine does not have a spinnaker, and says he has to use every advantage, so he was as usual, first over the starting line and it was not long before Wahina and Turrama were having a spirited luffing match in the light easterly breeze.
Viva, skippered by Garry Jones from Akoona, drew gently further and further ahead on a course of 0150 while Connapaira headed in the right direction almost due north.
A word about Connapaira might be in order. Bill Quill and his crew, Archie Hamilton have been sailing for many years, and given the right conditions are always a threat. Their spinnaker is an exiguous scrap of material and more suited to the Yvonne whence it came, but oh how it works! In fact on that reach to the Pearl Channel, Connapaira wound up ahead with the rest in a hole, too far East and desperately running square to the buoy.
Ngalawa saw the lot. Short of crew and official starting boat she started 20 minutes after the fleet and was close enough at the first mark to see that Wahine had split off to the right course earliest, and was able to round the buoy close behind the leaders.
A Chinese puzzle followed. Connapaira and Viva shot round the buoy and took an unfavourable tack with wind and tide carrying them swiftly south. Wahine allied herself with a nymph of the breeze and did remarkably well on the other tack. Ngalawa dithered from one tack to the other and decided to accept a leeward position in the fleet to get the more sensible direction. Tricia was well up in contention and Tane Tu appeared to have problems which conveyed her up and down and sideways but not ahead. Turrama headed off to chase Wahine again and Viva, making relatively tremendous speed headed well off to leeward and outstripped everyone.
In short the fleet split up on the next leg. The hazy conditions made the marks elusive and if Navy Week visitor, submarine Otway had not come roaring down the shipping channel, a lot of boats would have had more difficulty finding M3.
And the gremlin that sits on M3 was up to his usual form. The breeze, complete with holes, puffs, and mad changes of direction did a screaming Uey and went to the north.
The order around M3 was Viva, Wahine, Turrama and Tricia. Tane Tu having drowned and skittled her spinnaker noted that a butterfly had passed her to windward, and ego shattered, went home with the news that there was no wind and Viva was so far ahead anyway… Kev did not see the whole fleet sail into the biggest hole yet between M3 and the entrance leads, and just sit as Ngalawa leg roped the gremlin and lolloped gently through the fleet, so that when the action started again she was able to beat Viva by 8 minutes or so at Bishop Island. With the 20 minute delay at the start this mean line honours but no trophy, as her handicap of 790 required another 20 minutes of her to beat diminutive drifters. Connapaira and Tricia who hoisted miniscule spinnakers to take advantage of their light weight.