Georgia Racing

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Georgia wins Coastal Classic

Thursday, November 23, 2000

NewsSailingNZSailing New Zealand Magazine

Three days before the start of the race, a strong wind warning and the prediction of 25 to 35 knot south-easterly winds had the crews rubbing their hands and everyone checking the record times of 1996 when these conditions last prevailed. Unfortunately it was not to be. The direction of the east and eventually southeast winds did arrive, but not before a 4 to 6 knot northerly sea breeze forced the fleet to tack all the way to Kawau Island against an incoming tide. The absence of Afterburner and Spilt Enz this year made picking the overall line-honours winner difficult.

The fleets attempted to start in O to 3 knots against the tide and easterly headwind. Some took 45 minutes to cross the start line with the best starts coming from the larger A division keelers which took 40 minutes to round North Head. They had the advantage over the multihulls by starting on the northern side of the course and being able to short tack up the Devonport shore. First to North Head was the Jim Farmer's new Farr 53, Georgia. She led the fleet in the light easterly to Rangitoto Light where the breeze died completely. The incoming tide, coupled with the wait for the new northerly sea breeze, bunched all the fleets together. Georgia was first round Rangitoto Light, followed by Whitbread Sixty and News Corporation, (an unofficial entry due to their ability to utilise water ballast). Georgia was impressive in the light conditions. She edged around Rangitoto Light and clawed her way up the northern side, slowly building a lead over all around her. For a boat that only hit the water two weeks before the race, she showed great speed in the light airs. Georgia took four hours to reach Kawau Island were the fleet were able to slightly crack sheets and head northwards in a building 10 to 12 knot easterly. In Chris Salthouse's words, as far as the monohull fleet was concerned, "The race was over by Kawau". They had built an enormous lead over Hydroflow and Anetaeus, which they considered they could hold for the balance of the course. The reaching conditions allowed News Corporation to fill her ballast tanks and stretch her legs, passing Georgia two miles passed Kawau, even though she was maintaining 10.4 knots of boat speed in 9.5 knots of wind under jibtop.

Meanwhile, back in the fleet, it was slow going for many of the smaller boats and the much fancied line-honours favourites, the multihulls. Multis never have been known for their light weather upwind performances, and the big monohulls just kept getting further and further ahead. The tiny rocket, Silver Raider (10m) managed to squeeze around Rangitoto and get a sizeable jump on the multi fleet, but was out pointed in the light tacking conditions by the longer waterline length of Sundreamer, and Occams Razor. The top multis rounded Kawau up to three hours behind the first keelers, but then came into their own on the tight reach and run up the northern coast.

Sundreamer passed Georgia just north of Whangarei Heads. With the wind continually moving aft, and with Georgia hugging the coast doing speeds up to 14.5 knots, Sundreamer was unable to build a large enough lead to hold out Georgia on the beat to the finish from Cape Brett. Goergia was the first official boat home, at 2.11am, to win overall honors by 12 minutes.