Thursday, August 30, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Before leaving Coles Bay, the skippers and crews discussed the difficult options ahead. With strong cold south westerlies forecast most skippers were looking for good reasons to use the Dunalley canal option, although neither option looked inviting.
Peccadillo's choice was more straight forward. We would not be able to tack in a narrow channel against a strong current and strong wind, nor could we physically drag her 7 tonnes through if needed. Also, it would not be in our best interest to follow Big Wave Rider into the canal where they would have the double advantage of being ahead of us as well as having a better chance of getting through, so off we go to round Tasman Island.
Soon after starting with the wind around 20 knots we set our flattie spinnaker and take off at 22 to 25 knots thinking we could scream down the lee side of Tasman Island at record pace. The plan worked a treat until Marion Bay when we had to get rid of it quickly as we were hit by worrying successions of 50 knot bullets followed by near dead calm periods as night fell.
This led to an amazing experience as the black storm fronts opened a small crevice in the sky to allow the full moon to gleam through producing moonlight cliff faces and an amazing rainbow in the darkness of the night. The East coast of the Tasman peninsula was surreal and awe inspiring in these conditions although we were under no illusion about what to expect when we break free of the shadow of Tasman Island.
After a few massive windshifts in the sheltered conditions with our double reef and staysail, we headed into the darkness meeting 35knot and bitterly cold southwesterly winds, huge seas and ripping current. This was a tough slog, handling was tricky and required helming from the outside cockpit.
With extremely high wind chill, a 4 hour shift left me with frostbitten fingers then with the oncoming shift, conditions were voted as too dangerous so we sailed into nearby Safety Cove at Port Arthur and anchored to refresh and wait for expected easing of conditions at daybreak.
After a much needed five hours rest, conditions had improved and we managed to beat our way out of Storm Bay, and up to the finish, still with strong squalls all the way. Our rest period had let two more boats slip past and finish ahead.
Our two athletes came through the ordeal in good shape, set the fasted time over snow-capped Mt Wellington, missing the record time by just 3 minutes.
After counting elapsed time for the whole race we were second placed in the multis, four hours 10 minutes behind Big Wave Rider, who deserve great credit for managing to physically drag their boat through the canal to take the podium. The monos were won by Advantedge, who sailed an excellent race in the conditions. In all, six of the twelve boat fleet finished this particularly stormy Three Peaks.
Video here: http://vimeo.com/46678879