Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Last leg against storm and sea

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The last leg of the Round North Island race is the one that sailors are talking about. As Coromandel residents were on flood watch, the 20 yachts in the Round North Island fleet were making their way against the weather from Napier to Auckland on the last leg.

It’s a Short Handed Sailing Association race – two people on each yacht, some of them normally crewed by eight or more.

Truxton’s drama occurred just off the Mercury Islands. Skipper Wil Horne who had been awake since Napier went below for some rest when Iain Gifford yelled that something had broken and there was no steering.

It was 2am, blowing 30knots, no steering and the nearest land was the appropriately named Danger Rocks.

“It was a bit of a panic for a second, but we got the self-steering on,” says Wil. “Which got it going before we worked out how to get the wheel re-attached to the rudder.”

The steering chain on the pedestal had broken. The chain connects to the cables that turn the rudder. It took about an hour to repair.

“But after that we decided not to run any kites or anything until daylight. Once we got round (Cape) Colville it was tail winds, but we weren’t sure it wasn’t going to let go again. We didn’t really want to wipe out on the middle of the night in 25-30 knots.”

They waited till daylight before putting the kite up. He thinks without the breakage they might have picked up a couple more places on overall handicap, but it didn’t make a difference to the second place overall in their division.

“It looks like we got second every leg except the third one which we had a shocker on. Stuff happens.

“Overall we are reasonably happy. We set out to go one better than before and we did. The guys that won it just had a blinder really.”

Twenty boats finished the race with Truxton 12th over the line. All of divisions one and two finished, eight out of the nine division three yachts finished but only one of the six entries in division four finished.

Four yachts stopped at Gisborne, and stayed there until Monday.

“They had had enough of the conditions,” says Wil. “They re-started Monday. One of the boats busted a stay had no choice, the other three had just had enough.

“We were sort of bashing into head winds the whole way, basically from Napier to Cape Coleville.”

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