Sailing Japan this week means sitting at my computer in Hyogo, Japan and supporting the Auckland – Fiji – Denarau yacht race as best I can. This Category One ocean race is to be conducted by the Royal Akarana Club in Conjunction with Port Denarau Marina. A good friend of ours Brian Petersen is racing aboard Ran Tan II an Elliot 15.3 racing yacht. Brian is well known in Japan as he has raced in the Melbourne Osaka yacht race 3 times. We really want to support not only Brian but all boats and sailors out there doing their very best for Ocean Yacht Racing as they fight their way across the 1280 miles from Auckland to Fiji.
Watch the Race here http://fiji-race.navitrac.fr/regate.php?regate=2
The line up for this race is impressive and as I read through the entries my mouth waters as I wish I was standing on board any one of these incredible boats.
I managed to call Brian as he was entering customs / immigration pre-race start line and all I could say was “Good luck and I wish I was there” Since that moment I have been glued to the computer watching GRIBs, Weather and race trackers. Today’s Internet and computers make it so easy to join the race and live each moment with the actual crews.
As I mentioned the line up is impressive. Take a peek at this;
1. “Bare Essentials” – Open 50.
2. “Bird On a Wing” – Beneteau 50
3. “BullRush” – Elliot 12
4. “Cheetah II” – Chico 30
5. “General Lee” – B&W 36
6. “Lion N.Z.” – Ron Holland Maxi 23.93
7. “Pretty Boy Floyd” – Ross 40
8. “Ran Tan II” – Elliot 15.3 (Brian is racing aboard this vessel.)
9.” Revs” – Ross 40.
10. “Starlight Express” – Davidson 16.8
11. “Wired” – B&W 15.86
12. “O’Canada” – Open 60
13. “O’Sinnerman” – Davidson 55
14. Skiddy Too – Muir 9.8
15 Farrago II – Farr 11.6
Start. The race started Friday 21st as Cheetah II took off in the PHRF Corinthian Class. At 30 feet she will need just a bit of a head start to finish close to the rest of the boats at line honours time. I am so very proud to see this Chico 30 out there fighting. Safe sailing to Michael Potter on his boat Cheetah II.
Saturday 22nd 14:00. The racers line up in front of Okahu Bay Wharf just down from Bastion Point. And they are off in a gentle Southerly filling their sails at a lazy 10- 13 knots. O”Sinneran crossed the start line first to kick the race into full gear.
Saturday 22nd 16:50 and most of the fleet is through and going on up past Rangitoto Island.
Saturday 22nd 17:00 and the filed splits as they look for wind.
Saturday 22nd 21:30 Along Past Little Barrier Island. Most of the fleet leave Little Barrier Island to the right but Lion N.Z. and O’Sinnerman decide to leave it on the left as they continue to run straight on at about 20 – 30 degrees. Average fleet speeds around 5.5 – 6.7 knots.
Saturday 22nd 23:00 and the fleet is scattered from Hen and Chicken Islands to Aiguilles Island. All looking for wind. Slow going.
Saturday 23nd 04:00 The big boys start to stretch their legs. O’Canada just off Cape Brett and moving well at 8.0 knots. Ran Tan II and Wired hard on here heels and also running at around 8.0 knots.
Saturday 23nd 10:00 The entire fleet is running East of the Rhumb Line. O’Canada and Wired heading straight up the middle and lead the fleet at about 340 degrees. Starlight Express, General Lee , Bullrush and Pretty Boy Floyd heading up at about 310 degrees as they lead the Westerly pack with Ran Tan II and Revs way of to the East running at about 300 degrees looking for wind with speeds of 12 knots and more.
Sunday 23rd 14:00 O’Canada firmly ahead but sailing well East of the line. Ran Tan II Even further East with Revs following in head wake as they pass Serville Cliffs.
Monday 24th 00:00 and Ran Tan II has gone as far East as she can. Moves over to a new heading of 40 degrees and points towards the middle at 8.0 knots. All boats working the Westerly side of the field have slowed to around 6 knots. Wired is right bang in the middle and looking for wind with a boat speed of 5 knots.
Monday 24th 04:15 Revs, Bare Essentials, Lions N.Z., Wired all join Ran Tan II and head East. The Easterly group have fallen well off to the West and show heading such as Bullrush, O’Sinnerman and Pretty Boy Floyd all at 280 Degrees. O’Canada has also fallen well off to the West and slowing to 8.0 knots.
Monday 24th 07:12 Farrago II slips her moorings and rejoins the race showing a course of 330 degrees and speed of 5.04 knots. Never Give Up!
Monday 24th 07:55 O’Canada straightens to a new heading of 20 degrees and puts her foot down to 12 knots. .
Monday 24th 11:55 Ran Tan II takes off after O”Canada and is racing ahead at 0 degrees at 15 knots!
Monday 24th 11:55 Ran Tan II boys must be yelling at O”Canada over their port bow as they pass her by at 22.81 knots. No that is not a typing mistake. 21.8 knots and Ran Tan II passes O’Canada.
Monday May 24th 14:58 RanTan started a rush back at about 12:00 midday and has not let up at all. She has been running along at between 13 and 15.8 knots for the past 2 hours. She has pulled right passed O’Canada.
Monday 24th 17:00 Weather report says all boats are wearing slickers by now. Rain. O’Canada on 20 degrees and Wired on 60 degrees making their way back to the rhumb line. The race is close at the top with O’Canada sitting on 756 miles to finish. But look at this. Ran Tan II 813.3 remaining, Wired 814.9 remaining, Starlight Express 815.3 remaining.
Tuesday 25th 01:23 O’Canada is still pushing hard on 60 degrees from left to right straight for the Rhumb line at speeds of between 15 and 18 knots. Ran Tan II Continues straight up and to the west at 350 degrees and is now the most Westerly boat in the fleet. I am wondering what they are looking for that far west but trust there is a good reason. There was a slight change as Ran Tan II Changed course from 350 degrees over to 60 degrees from 23:35 to 00:43 but then she went back over to 0 degrees and has stayed there ever since. Meanwhile there is a massive battle going on as General Lee and Wired come barging across at 60 degrees to meet up with the Rhumb line parallel group of Starlight Express , Bar Essentials, BullRush and Pretty Boy Floyd all closely followed by O’Sinnerman and Bird on a wing. Rebvs and Lion N.Z. have their own little thing going on over a bit to the west of this main fleet and now we see Skiddy Too joining Farrago II and entering the contest again as well.
Tuesday 25th 2 :00 Almost all boats in the fleet have straightened up and are cutting courses of around 10 degrees taking them up and slightly to the left towards the Rhumb line.
Tuesday 25th 6:00 over the last two hours Wired has made a break from the pack and opened up a substantial gap between herself and what has been the tight pack of BullRush, Starlight Express, General Lee and Pretty Boy Floyd. Ran Tan II Keeps hedging her Easterly way over to the Rhumb line.
Tuesday 25th 12:00 Lunch time day three and with just under half way to go three boats have pulled clearly away. O’Canada is well out in front with Ran Tan II and Wired back in 2nd and 3rd position with only 2.1 miles between them. Ran Tan II passing 598.5 miles to go to finish and Wired having 600.6 to go. Hard to believe isn’t it after 3 days fighting only 2 miles between them.
Tuesday 25th 15:00 O’Canada Running at 360 degrees for 14 knots with 462 miles to finish, Wired at 10 degrees for 11.7 knots closes those two miles RanTan II with both boats now having 570 miles to finish. Leading the next group back is Bare Essentials on 50 degrees and heading for the Rhumb line at 10.6 knots. This is turning into a very close Auckland to Fiji Yacht Race. It is worth noting that what seems to be generally even 20 knot winds from the South West Rant Tan II has had sever speed reductions for the last 2 hours. This could be a dead spot in the wind or it could be equipment failure. Whichever it is odd she is showing only 9 knots against Wired at 10.6 and O’Canada at 14 knots. Time will show us the answer. Only 19 miles separate Starlight Express, General Lee, BullRush and Pretty Boy Floyd, Then at 630 miles we have Revs tracking Easterly at 20 degree towards the Rhumb Line. Drop down a little to Lion N.Z. heading even harder East at 30 Degrees with 658 to go and whilst s a little Further East and heading up at 10 degrees we see Bird on a Wing with 653 remaining. Tail End Charlie in this group is O’Sinnerman and then we go back to Farrago II who reentered the race and is tracking 20 degrees at 8 knots with 836 to go. Finally by by no means least we have another late starter as Skiddy Too gallantly closes the field.
Tuesday 25th 18:00 O’Canada is back on the ranking screen and showing a distance to finish of 412 miles. Next in order is Ran Tan II having their work cut out to close a gap of 122 miles between O’Canada’s 412 and their own 534 to finish. Moreover and adding to Ran Tan II’s challenge as I type this entry I note that O’Canada is in wind and running at 10.6 knots compared to Ran Tan’s 9.06 knots. Not gonna catch them like that guys! Still, there is a long way to go and this is yacht racing. I am be wrong but looking at the GRIBs for next couple of days it looks like a quiet night ahead for all with the winds calming and then maybe shifting around a bit from South East to the North over the next day or so. Might see a bit on the nose by tomorrow night and if so the game may well change for the big Open 60 and others who do not fair so well up wind. Then again I am be completely wrong and the running and reaching may stay with fleet. But if I am reading the weather correctly we may have a great line honours battle on our hands.
Wednesday 26th 01:30 Ran Tan II closes 2 miles on O’Canada over a 6 hour period. Lead boats are coming into the possibly quieter winds for the night. Boat speeds are well down for the lead boats whilst the following groups do seem to be still enjoying what is left of the South Easter.
Wednesday 26th 02:36 Ran Tan II clawing back mile on mile from O’Canada with another 2 miles in one hour with Wired and Bare Essentials only 7 miles behind Rant Tan II has to stay on top of it all the way now. But back just a little further we have a fantastic battle going on between General Lee, BullRush and Starlight express. Seriously these boats are so close together they are having to observe the right of way rules just as carefully as any weekend Buoy racer does at the mark. Just incredible. Meanwhile Skiddy Too has his pedal to the floor and is roaring up after the fleet just as hard as he can. Good chance there will be plenty of tucker left on the table when he arrives.
Wednesday 26th 04:30 Squeezing the last out of the wind with Starlight Express at 2.90 knots, General Lee at 3.4 knots, BullRush at 4 knots and further North Wired at 4.3 knots, Ran Tan II with 2.17 knots and O’Canada driving along at 4.13 knots. One surprise is Cheetah II, Michael Potter seems to have found some decent wind over to the far East of the filed and is climbing up towards the leaders at 6.0 knots. 30 – 40 miles back the following group still see decent wind and are all running with around 6 -8 knots and time will tell if they run up to meet the same lull. One boat to keep our eyes on is certainly Boyd Smith’s Bare Essentials which crossed over the Rhumb line just after midnight and is now climbing straight up the line at 5.8 knots. Boyd would not need to many hours with these conditions to close the 10 mile gap on Wired and Ran Tan II. Nice sailing Mr. Smith.
Wednesday 26th 05:30 While most of us are still tossing zzzzzzz s in bed this Auckland to Fiji race fleet is chucking Zs of a different kind. One look at the GPS tracker trails for last night shows many of the boats drew their own zZs in the water as the gybed here and there desperately trying to break free of calm areas.
Wednesday 26th 09:30 4.47, 3.01, 4.48, 3.35, 4.28, 4.15, 3.71, 1.86, 2.75, 4.36, boat speeds as we approach 10:00 am of the 4th day at sea and even O’Canada’s 325 to finish seems a long way to go. Couple brighter notes being Bare Essentials at 5.12 and Revs at 5.37. Give Boyd Smith another hour of this weather and he will claim 2nd position from Wired who just a short while back took it from Ran Tan II. One thing seems certain, no speed records will be set here this year. However the official race web site tells us the longest Auckland Fiji race on record took 9 days 8 hours and 8 minutes. …….na, no way not this year. I am not much of a forecaster but this could be a light breezy finish as suggested or as Mr. Grib seems to be saying we may see some North slip down the Coral Sea between OZ and New Cal. within the next 12 to 15 hours and it may even puff a bit and if it does this race could well turn into an on the nose wet finish favouring the lighter close haul boats. Just never can be too sure. We will see.
One thing is for sure. Right now every sailor is being tested as they hunt their boats and rack their minds looking for 0.1 of a knot. Good hunting guys.
Wednesday 26th 09:30 Decisive Moments. Ran Tan II is sailing at 1.0 knots on heading 120 degrees. Heading back to Auckland? I think not. But as she is on 120 at 1.0 knots Wired is coming through on 20 degrees at 6.4 knots and Bare Essentials is pushing up on 20 degrees at 4.5 knots. This will open a hole.
Thursday 27th 00:00 Midnight. New Caledonia and Norfolk Island are now both blowing Northerly. I still may be wrong and the entire fleet may escape this North wind but if not this is going to turn into one very very interesting race. Either way this years Auckland to Fiji is a great race. Right now we have some terrific battles going on right across the field. Also it is of course good to see some boat speeds creeping back across the board.
Thursday 27th 02:00 Apart from O’Canada who continues her way straight up parallel to the Rhumb line at 10 degrees the fleet is predominantly heading East. Low speeds and quiet winds.
Thursday 27th 04:50 Freshening up with boat speed around 7 – 9 knots. Most of the fleet is heading East to the Rhumb line apart from O’Canada and Ran Tan II who are both sailing on 350 degrees slightly away from the Rhumb line.
Thursday 27th 09:20 Steady as she goes with the fleet picking it’s way north. Cheetah II is working hard and although the fleet big boys caught her up Tuesday (25th) morning she remains part of the lead group. Skiddy Too and Farrago II are dueling it out after late starts and have made considerable gains on the bulk of the fleet.
Thursday 27th 10:00 The 3 lead boats, O’Canada, Wired and Ran Tan II have held each other’s position solidly for the last 4 hours. There has been very little or no change in the distance separating these three boats at all since 6 a.m. With 216 miles to finish as at 10:00 am O”Canada is 110 miles in front of nearest rival Wired and 120 miles in front of Ran Tan II. On the other hand with present speeds we still have 30 hours of sailing before anyone gets a sniff of the finish line. Lots can happen.
Friday 28th 3:30 a.m and O’Canada can most likely smell land. Navitrac system has her just under 60 miles to go and running at a solid 10.5 to 11.0 knots. O’Canada has spent the last 12 hours opening a huge gap on all other boats and barring any major mishaps is going cross the line in a well earned 1st place. Ran Tan II and wired are battling it out for 2nd and 3rd across the line and still have over 200 miles each to sail. The weather suggests we may have to wait up to 15 hours after O’Canada’s arrival to see the next boats come home and up to 3 days before the tail end of this fleet make to a hot shower.
Friday 28th 8:30 am. O’Canada passes the final waypoint to take line honours. Congratulations on a great shorthanded effort.
Here is what she looks like. http://bit.ly/cwaKFe
Saturday 29th 9:30 am. Wired is sailing at 0.95 of a knot with 43 miles to go. Ran Tan II is 27 miles behind here sailing at 1.53 knots with not a sign of giving up. Barring major incidents it is fair to project Wired as second on line honours. However it is not so easy to figure out the rest of the filed. Bare Essentials is 29 miles behind Ran Tan II but she is pumping along at 6.5 knots and rapidly closing the gap to Ran Tan II. Then back just a little further , Starlight Express, Lion N.Z and REVs are bashing it out at 6 – 7 knots and most likely yelling (kind words of course) at each other across the beam. It is a pleasure to watch these boats competing so hard after so long. Cheetah II is fighting the rea guard action for the Westerly side of the fleet with 180 miles to go. Over to the East on the Rhumb line Bullrush at 176 miles to finish and and Pretty Boy Floyd at 179 are hard at it, O’Sinnerman and General Lee are ducking it out with Bird on the Wing just off to their right and hugging the line. Skiddy Too and Farrago II have their work cut out with “Miles to Go” still in the 300s and this wind, sorry breeze making their life just a little harder. Good on each and every one of you. What a fantastic effort by one and all.
Saturday 29th 13:30. It is really nice to see the boats running at decent speeds. Wired had 27 miles to finish, Ran Tan II has 58. with both boats trucking at 10 knots. Just a little behind is the battle for 4th with Bare Essentials, Lion N.Z., and Starlight express duking it out. Great finish here.
Saturday 29th May 16:30 That Wired over the line. Well done to all on board. A great effort.
Saturday 29th May 19:30. Just got off the telephone to Brian Petersen aboard Ran Tan II. To the race he simply said “not much wind” then he went on to say they were just motoring up to the dock and customs. From there on to a well earned shower and then into a few cold ones. Well done John Meade and to all the lads on Ran Tan II.
More on Ran Tan II http://www.elliott-marine.com/pdfs/elliott50/Rantan.pdf