September 27, 2010

The Big Race

We arrived in Vavau just as the annual regatta started. While we were unprepared to participate in the around buoy race, we did get our act together for destination race. The race course was about 12 miles in length and contained downwind, beam and upwind legs. We got Nikita in here most sleek condition, but that still including the dinghy on deck etc... not much of a classical race look. But this was our first official race in Nikita so we were excited.

The race started with about 40 boats ranging from 30 feet to 60 feet, monohulls and multihulls. Nikita got a good start, about 30 seconds off the line, others were better. We quickly closed on the first bottle neck of the course a narrow point leading out of Neiafu harbor, we had about 5 boats within beer passing distance as we rounded the mark. With some quick work including using the deck to stop the free fall of the pole, we got our genoa polled out and ran wing and wing downwind, quickly separating from all but the boats flying spinnakers. Rounding the next island 4 miles later, we came up on a beam reach quickly unpolling the genoa, we then gained on the spinnaker boats whom slowed down getting their spinnaker down. We raced along in 5th place at that point separating from the pack on a strong beam reach. Through the next bottle neck we came up hard on the wind, side by side with the 4th place boat, a 50 footer, we crossed behind them nearly putting our anchor in their davit hung dinghy. We fell slightly back and worked hard, rail in the water down to the pass and the final turn.

At the final turn we tacked in behind the 3rd place boat hoping we could hold a very tight angle. The 4th place boat held for a later turn. We shot ahead crossed through the reef lined pass and headed for the finish line 3 miles away.... in 4th place and we held that all the way beating the 5th place boat by 100 feet. Great fun, close racing. The first and second place boats were all 50+ monos, the third place boat a 42 foot Jboat, and then 40 foot Nikita. The multis finished behind, as well as several, probably 10 50+ monos... a great showing for Nikita.

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