Slow and steady won the race - still in record time - for TeamVodafoneSailing in this year's wet and wild Coastal Classic, and boats that followed the same philosophy survived to tell the tale.
A string of records were broken in the Auckland to Russell race amidst 40 knot gusts and "evil" seas - and a mass of boat gear was broken too.
"This race was about boat management," says the Coastal's event director Jon Vincent. "Those that took a conservative approach benefited on the day. Those that went out there believing they could adjust to the conditions with too much sail area have suffered the consequences."
When the 167-strong fleet started off Devonport Wharf in a 30 knot wind squall with limited visibility, TeamVodafoneSailing's skipper Simon Hull decided a conservative approach was in order to make it to Russell in one piece. The Orma60 trimaran still managed to set a new race record - for the third year running - with the new mark now five hours 41 minutes and 44 seconds (slicing just shy of three minutes off last year's time).
The boat also set a personal milestone with a new top speed - 45.9 knots blasting out of the Rangitoto Channel.
The 10.65m Crusader 35 broke a 16-year-old record in the under 10.66m division - finishing in 10 hours and 2 minutes - and bettered the time for boats under 12.19m, also held since 1996.
Borderline set the first official records for the Open 8.5s, with a finishing time of 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting the bar high for future races.
There were plenty of thrills and spills off the startline, to set the scene for the day, with a cargo ship powering into the Waitemata Harbour only adding to the drama. Catamaran Taeping was forced to take drastic action when Rantan II broached. Both boats still finished in the top 10.
Further up the coast, Dirty Deeds capsized near Kawau Island in a 30+ knot gust; the crew were all safe and the boat was towed back to land. Of the 167 starters, 11 boats withdrew.
In the battle of the 50 footers, V5 came out on top in Division 1, in 8h 37m - with Wired and Kia Kaha, in her first Coastal Classic, only 10 minutes further back.
Crac A Jac, with solo circumnavigation sailor Laura Dekker on board, was the last boat to finish just inside the cut-off time of Saturday midday.
The first 10 finishers were:
1. TeamVodafoneSailing, 5h 41m 44s
2. Triple 8, 6.56.47
3. Taeping, 7.35.03
4. V5, 8.37.55
5. Timberwolf, 8.44.46
6. Wired, 8.55.15
7. Kia Kaha 52, 8.57.19
8. Borderline, 8.59.59
9. Georgia, 9.01.25
10. Ran Tan II, 9.12.09
- © Fairfax NZ News
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