TeamVodafoneSailing nose dive and take double before heading offshore – Sail-World NZ

TeamVodafone Sailing nose dive and take double before heading offshore

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TeamVodafoneSailing has had more than their share of action over the past month, involving both high-performance multihulls in their stable.

In mid-March, the team managed to nosedive their GC32 foiling catamaran in the Jack Tar regatta.

A week later the ORMA60 scorched away from the Auckland to Tauranga Race. She was the only boat to finish, but even so, missed the only offshore race record that has eluded the 60ft trimaran, which under Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) won two short-handed trans-Atlantic races.

TeamVodafoneSailing is also listed as a possible entrant in the 650nm Groupama race around New Caledonia – again chasing another SW Pacific race record.

Hull is also looking at taking the GC32 to Hamilton Island for the annual Race Week, later this year.

Nosedive at over 30kts

The swim in the Jack Tar regatta was the team’s second in the GC32, in a class which claims that the foiling catamarans rarely capsize.

The first dunking was an elementary affair on their first sail, with the boat just being caught in an awkward position and blowing over. No damage was done except to pride.

TeamVodafoneSailing nosedived at 30kts in a gybe – 2016 Jack Tar Auckland Regatta, Day 2 –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©

No so the second which happened midway through a foiling gybe at 30kts plus.

The cause was simple.

“To be perfectly honest, I tripped over during a gybe,” chuckled helmsman Simon Hull. “We had changed our system from having someone go to leeward and steer through the gybe to one where I was running across and holding the tiller bar as you go across, and drop it as you go past the mainsheet.

“I tripped over as we went through. It was a fairly high-speed gybe. We went into it at 33kts. It would have been a full foiling gybe. We had done one where we just touched the hull down briefly, in the gybe before, so that would have been our first full foiling gybe.

“As I slipped I must have hit the tiller bar and we rounded back up the way we had come and it was all over.”

In the 20kt plus easterly breeze, and the incoming tide pushed the boat over quickly. Put in the added dimension of water too shallow to allow the 16metre mast on the GC32 to invert completely, and a broken mast was inevitable.

TeamVodafoneSailing’s GC32 is righted, while the team’s ORMA60 looks on – 2016 Jack Tar Auckland Regatta, Day 2 –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©

“The top of the mast stuck in the mud and broke before we could get a chase boat onto it. And the rest was history,” Hull added.

The crew cut through the soft lashings to free the mast from the platform, and she was towed, inverted back to Westhaven. “Without a mast in the boat, you can’t re-right them,” Hull points out. “You just pull them sideways. When you have a rig in the boat, you start the rotational process, with the water pushing on the sails, and the boat will come up.”

“We didn’t want to damage the hulls so we just towed her slowly home, upside down. Team New Zealand helped us to flip her up the right way, and we had the boat all cleaned up by the end of the day.”

Only the top section of the two-part mast was broken.

“There is so much demand for these boats and parts around the world that I am waiting to hear back as to when we can get a new one. In the interim, we will repair the broken top section and then keep it as a spare.”

“If we had another top section available, we would have been sailing the next day.”

Impact speed on the top of the GC32’s speedo and max speed for the day on the bottom – TeamVodafoneSailing – 2016 Jack Tar Auckland Regatta, Day 2 –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©

Safety gear comes into play

Hull explains the team has America’s Cup standard gear on board the chase boat to assist with mishaps, including re-breathers. “They give us enough time under the water to cut away mast lashings. The re-breathers are there for safety, but they also give us enough time for other work if the crew are safe.”

“We were all properly set up for those sort of situations. They shouldn’t happen but sometimes do. If we had been in deeper water we would not have had a problem – we’d have just pulled the boat sideways, popped her up and gone sailing again.”

“We’re getting happier with our performance. In that race, we were leading the second GC32, Marwin and it was the third race of the day. In the other two, we had been leading for a bit but had let Marwin through us.

“We are also trying a new gennaker from Norths, which is flatter and smaller and we think faster. But the boat was quite squirrely with it. But it is all an interesting learning curve for us and the other foiling boats that are sailing in Auckland.”

“As long as we can get this mast sorted we are going across to Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach over the winter. The idea is to go and have some fun and get in some sailing in nice warm waters.

“The great thing about these GC32’s is that you can just put then into a 40ft container and just send them off. It is a lot easier compared to the big boat (the ORMA60).”

Simon Hull and crew afer the finish – TeamVodafoneSailing – 2016 Auckland Tauranga Race –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©   Click Here to view large photo

Light airs frustrate Auckland Tauranga Race

Turning to the Auckland to Tauranga Race which started on the Thursday before the long Easter Weekend, Hull says his heart goes out to the Tauranga Yacht Club – the timing of the race at Easter seems certain to assure it of being plagued by light winds.

(The original start time of the race, Pre World War II, was on Boxing Day.)

“It was character building,” was Hull’s summary of the race which had attracted a fleet of 25 boats and 21 starters.

“Almost invariably there is no wind at Easter. But we had a forecast of 50-60kts, the night before and it was still steaming at 5-6am when we were going down to get the boat ready, and wondered if we would be able to get the boat off the marina – even with chase boats and the like.

“By the time we got to the start time there was no wind at all – it had dropped to just 5kts of breeze. And it was yet another character building Tauranga race.

TeamVodafoneSailing crew before the start of the 2016 Auckland Tauranga Race. The wind dropped from 50-60kts to less than 5kts just a few hours before the start. –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©

“It took us until 4.00pm to get to Channel Island. At one stage we had a 36fter nipping at our heels – who had started five minutes behind us. We’re pretty sticky in the light,” Hull adds, stating the obvious.

“When we got out the back of the barrier, past Cuvier, there was a 4-metre swell and not a lot of wind. It was very sloppy.

“We managed to hook into a bit of breeze and got into Tauranga about 10.30pm.”

“The poor boats behind us were marooned at the Mercs with a big sea and there was a fair bit of seasickness.”
Surfing at over 30kts in Tauranga Race

Simon Hull says that the Auckland to Tauranga race record is the only one that has eluded the red and white ORMA60 in New Zealand. “We’ll be turning up until we get that one,” he says. “It’s only about 2-3nm longer than a Coastal Classic – we should be able to do it in under 6hours, quite comfortably in the right conditions.”

Initially, when they rounded Cape Colville there was only 6-7kts of wind, but Hull says they spotted a cloud with what looked like some breeze under it, and gybed towards it.

“There was about 15kts of breeze there, and we followed it. We sailed through the hideously small gap in the Mercury Islands – which is only about 50-60metres wide, and followed this piece of breeze, and managed to hold it until Mayor Island when it started to soften.

TeamVodafoneSailing – 2016 Auckland Tauranga Race –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©

“We hit 30kts at times, surging down waves. One gybe was better than the other because of the angle of the seas. The big boat loves those conditions, and she is spectacular when you get out there with the big gennaker up – even in just 15kts.”

“We only got winds of 14-15kts maybe up to 17kts at times.”

“When we started in Auckland, there was still blowing 30kts at the Mercs, and I think we just got into the tail end of that weather system and carried that all the way to Tauranga.”

TeamVodafoneSailing, the ORMA60 probably has the worst rating of any boat in New Zealand, and they don’t usually win races on line and rating. But being the first and the only finisher means they scored a rare double.

New Caledonia sojourn?

The Groupama around New Caledonia race is under serious consideration.

TeamVodafoneSailing GC32 scoots ahead of the TP52 Beau Geste 

TeamVodafoneSailing will once again compete in the ANZ Fiji Race and Hull says it is only a 600nm mile downhill slide across to New Caledonia.

The plan is to then leave the boat in Noumea for a couple of months, with the crew flying to Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach for the Race Weeks, and then onto Noumea for the Groupama Race.

“We are pretty sure we are going to do that race, provided everything lines up.

“The organisers are very keen, as this boat is one of their own, and has a good reputation being the ex Géant under Michel Desjoyeaux. When we put the expression of interest in, the organisers were on the phone five minutes later, and it was on their website five minutes after that.

“It’s a lovely piece of water, and a good opportunity for the boat to stretch her legs. We don’t get enough of that sort of thing in New Zealand.”

Next project is the opening of the Zhik clothing store, which Hull and son Harry (currently competing in the Congressional Cup) are running under the Multihull Ventures banner.

Located in Auckland’s Victoria Park, he expects the store to open in mid to late April.

TeamVodafoneSailing – Hamilton Island Race Week 2011 –  Crosbie Lorimer?nid=143616   Click Here to view large photo
TeamVodafoneSailing launch the GC32 Vodafone32 In November 2015 –  TeamVodafoneSailing ©
TeamVodafoneSailing run two high performance multihulls out of their Auckland base. The Vodafone32 with the TeamVodafoneSailing ORMA60 behind –  © Richard Gladwell?nid=143616   Click Here to view large photo

by Richard Gladwell, NZL

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