More Racing







We had made a decision to do only two-handed racing in future, even when there is no two-handed division. To aid this we have set the boat up to make headsail changes easier. We no longer carry a No1 genoa, only a 135% kevlar genoa on the roller-furler. After our experiences peeling to the No 3 on the RNI Race we decided that it would be better to have a No 3 which set on the inner forestay, allowing much easier changes down from the genoa. The new sail is a little smaller, but immediately proved its worth on the first of the Nexus Gold Cup races, in which we won the IRC division, competing against fully crewed boats. Unfortunately, the second Gold Cup night race was sailed in much lighter conditions and turned into a ‘rating credibility’ race in which we finished well down.






Sunstone’s covering boards have never been back to the wood in the 28 years we have owned the boat. We guess that the number of coats they’ve received is measured in scores – to the point where it was more like a solid veneer than a coating. It all came off and nine new coats went back on. Now we have another 28 years to look forward to.






Doug Reid is, like us, an enthusiast for S&S designs. His boat ‘Sapphire’ is another beautiful example of Olin’s work. However, his other life is logistics manager for Team New Zealand and he kindly showed us round the Team’s base in the Viaduct Basin in Auckland. Seen up close the AC machines – even stripped of much of their equipment are remarkable engineering artefacts.





Peter Vause, Commodore of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington, kindly invited us to speak at the Club and even flew us down from Auckland. After sorting the usual technical problems we spoke to an apparently appreciative audience of 40-50 members about both cruising and racing – and managing the two together.





The routine tasks of maintenance don’t stop!



For a change, the Coastal Classic from Auckland to the Bay of Islands delivered an upwind race. The result of course was that about half the fleet either failed to start or retired shortly after starting. Kiwis do prefer to go downwind. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the most of the early heavier beating and then lost out in the long period of light beating north of the Hens and Chickens. We still managed second in the two-handed division, but it wasn’t a good race for us.






However, it did get us up to the Bay of Islands for a quiet spot of cruising at a time when the BOI are pleasantly empty. Otherwise busy anchorages were peaceful and the hiking tracks were shared only with stick insects.






In her usual exuberant but organised fashion, Vicky had scheduled herself for the Auckland Half-Marathon, which occurred only a few days after the Coastal Classic. She bussed down to Auckland, did her run and bussed back – trailing glory, having finished 5th in her age group out of 65 runners and just about bang on her target time of 2 hours.





Opua was packed with cruisers arriving from the South Pacific Islands for their summer in New Zealand. The long row pictured to the right, are all cruisers awaiting clearance. Each year Opua processes hundreds of incoming yachts, most of which settle for the duration of their stay in the Bay of Islands, Whangerei, Gulf Harbour or Tauranga. We are always saddened to see how few foreign cruisers actually cruise in New Zealand, which offers such spectacular cruising opportunities. However, it does leave all those anchorages much emptier for the rest of us.












Our next major racing event was the 300 mile Round White Island Race. The course leads out of Auckland Harbour to Cape Colville, through the Colville Channel, across the Bay of Plenty, around White Island and return by the same route. It always adds interest to a course, when a turning mark is an active volcano! The Race was a very good one for us, with varied weather conditions and a fair amount of beating in fresh winds. We also had some luck, avoiding holes into which others fell. As a result, for the first and probably only time ever, we actually finished first in the fleet – only by dint of the big boat division starting many hours behind us. On handicap we won the IRC and Two-Handed divisions and were second overall on PHRF.


Having collected our silverware, we then set about spending several days converting ‘Sunstone’ from racing to cruising mode to ready her for a summer in Fiordland and Stewart Island in the far south.







With the Christmas lights already illuminating the Sky Tower in Auckland, we set off the next morning for Cape Reinga and the South Island.