Wow what a challenging and adventurous race that we all had, most of what we were expecting we got at some stage.
So final day was full of highs and lows ending with a great high. We could see from the weather files that the wind was going to drop out towards the end as we approached Fiji and we knew our friends ahead were some 55+ miles closer to the finish.
There was a chance that we could close the gap as Beau Geste slowed up first and indeed this did happen and we closed in some 15 miles only to then of course start slowing ourselves as the wind dropped away.
The wind actually picked up again and in a much more easterly direction giving us the most amazing champagne sailing conditions of the race and a major high, travelling smoothly at 18+ knots in 18+ knots of breeze with the J1, staysail and full main, these boats are simply awesome and feeling of sitting out effortlessly slipping along in the gorgeous blue ocean waters was quite spectacular and approaching the line at that speed we started to get very excited.
We knew the big black boat had finished and we calculated we had around 6 ¼ hrs to finish to win on handicap.
The pressure was on, then of course because its sailing and things often dont go to plan the wind fell out of the sky and we were then wallowing around chasing breeze and trying to work out the best sail to have up. This was the low part, there are far too many sails to choose from and we pretty much tried the lot as our captain Stevie C said we would, damn him he always seems to be right…
The guys on the foredeck and grinders worked their a….s off for many hours as up went the Code 0 then down then A2 up then A1 then back to Code 0. Trouble is so many thoughts and opinions on what we should do and which was best but actually good old Code 0 won the day finally, Stevie C said “no more *******g sail changes and off we went with the wind up and down. We could see the miles too and the up and down the Boat speed went, yes we were going to make it … no we weren’t, Jim was pacing up and down the boat we were all very tense. This was going to be a nail biter.
We got close to the line found the gap in the reef and started to plan only for the wind to completely go to the west, down came the Code 0 up went the J1 and we were beating for the line, going into the reef on final layline which we knew was quite tight, a frustrating header meant another hike out on port to finally lay the line, we finished with great relief and a quick calculation reckoned we had lost 1st place on handicap by 2 minutes.
Hey ho we have had a great race and had arrived in beautiful Fiji. Then Jim got the note that advised we were in fact provisional winners on IRC by a meer 3 minutes thankfully our calculations were slightly out, wow what a tight race and result – stunning.
Lots of Rum and beers at the dock, pizzas a swell many thanks Kate (Delegat)… a great welcome and the parties started. First showers to stop the smell … then glad rags on to hit town. A great night, too good for some and stuff happening I possibly cannot mention and some awesome dancing by a certain well know Auckland Rigger….
Anyway what a few days, many thanks to Jim and Kate Delegat and Stevie C of course for making this all happen with a perfect result for all.
That’s it folks from warm and beautiful Fiji, thanks for following Giacomos adventure.