24 hours into ANZ Sail Fiji and already the 20 boats racing are playing tactical games to get an early advantage over their rivals.
Out of the starting gates the fierce tacking duel between crowd favourites Giacomo and Beau Geste provided much excitement for the spectators both on the water and towering from above on North Head.
Beau Geste, the Botin 80 from Hong Kong, owned and skippered by Karl Kwok took the early lead over the Volvo 70 Giacomo with owner/skipper Jim Delegat.
But it was Giacomo who played a tactical move heading east and splitting from their favourite rival. This was a planned move by Delegat, Dickson and their 13 crew and was a decision made even before the start of the race.
But to ensure Giacomo didn’t get too far away, Beau Geste decided to loosely cover the Volvo 70 and also headed east. Both boats are maintaining a speed over ground of between 11.5 and 12.5 knots. It’s very much early stages for these two rivals.
The hotly contested 50 footer fleet were having their own battle out of the start and are now settling into a routine, they too are playing their own games.
At the first radio schedule reporting time, V5 told Maritime Radio NZ that they were keeping watchful eye on Wired.
“We are having a bit of a match race with Wired at the moment. Don’t want them slipping through,” said the crew of V5.
Wired also commented to Maritime Radio they all is well on board and that they have had a few sail changes already.
A report from the boat was received this afternoon.
“Its a bit tricky writing this as it’s not so nice out here, bit lumpy and a bit windy. Boat is going well in between crashing off waves. We have V5 about a mile on the bow and Kia Kaha about three behind. It’s been like this all day, great racing. Had a great beef stew last night but not sure if many people will be eating much tonight. Had a minor mishap this morning with the headsail blowing out of the track, all hands on deck for the drop and re-hoist, off watch crew not so happy. Lost our lead to V5 with that. Oh can someone tell us the rugby score?,” said the crew from Wired.
Squealer was also experiencing the lumpy conditions.
“Slam, bang, bash! Great Racing!” reported Squealer this afternoon.
Django, the J/111 owned and skippered by racing fanatic Andrew Reid have fantastic crew moral on board with the five strong team, also reporting lots of lumps and bumps in the ocean.
“Bang , crash, smash, crash, bounce, bash, smash! Hahaha! The sailing is glamorous! AP (Andy Pilcher) went out for ‘dinner’ last night, Lefty (Mark Findlay) is at the movies, Seamus (Tredinnick) is working and Bex (Heilkema) is driving like a demon! Just about to tuck into some Sushi and then organize the Toga party for this evening’s festivities,” reported Reid.
Lawless, the XP44 owned by Laurie Needham has reported some communications issues, however is able to relay their position to the fleet. They communicated with Maritime Radio via Outrageous Fortune and reported that all was well on board.
Early leaders on IRC, PHRF and General handicap will be working hard to maintain their positions.
Team Surreal, skipper by Tim Holgate with his mates on board, are the chilled our yachties looking to get to Fiji and have a good time. But they are also holding a nice lead on both PHRF and IRC meaning they are having an enjoyable time so far.
“We are loving this!!! But wouldn’t want to be on a small boat!” reported Holgate.
The three man crewed Peterson 40 Iemanja is the first boat to withdraw from ANZ Sail Fiji.
“We are also having some communication difficulties, but most of all our youngest on board, my son Zak, is suffering from severe seasickness and with only my 78 year old Dad (Lewis) and myself left on the crew, I thought it was best and safest to return to Auckland,” said a slightly deflated yet confident Steve Henry.
“We will however book some flights and fly up to Fiji to welcome in the boats and to continue with our family holiday,” continued Henry.
With Iemanja out of the race, this means the Royal Akarana Yacht Club Wilkinson Team will now be carrying a DNF putting an end to the hopes for that team which also consisted of Steinlager 2 and Blizzard.
This leaves one RAYC team left for the Interclub Challenge against three Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron teams.
The front runners for the Line Honours pride are set to cross the finish line in the Navula Passage anywhere from Wednesday to Thursday, with the remaining fleet not likely to be seen until Friday or Saturday. The 2005 race record of 3d, 10h, 47m, 40s held by Konica Minolta is (at this stage) safe from being broken.
The ANZ Sail Fiji Race Management Team departed Auckland en route to Fiji at midday on Sunday 8 June and will be on site in time to welcome the first cruising boat Mintaka who is due to arrive in Port Denarau Marina during the evening or early Monday morning.
“We are looking forward to a flat sleep and a toilet that keeps still!” said Mintaka skipper Ed Mitchell. The four on board have had a fantastic rally from Opua so far apart from the odd life ring going over board.
The second cruising boat is scheduled to finish between Monday evening and sometime Tuesday.
Upon arrival in Fiji the fleet will be welcomed by Port Denarau Marina where the berths will be filled with ANZ Sail Fiji entrants.
Keep an eye on the tracker to watch the race unfold and via the official website and the ANZ Sail Fiji Facebook page.