It doesn’t get easier, only faster

Four years of boat outlaw in SOL. Let’s look back at the past and current editions of my favourite race.

Sail Noumea 2012
The first SOL race for outlaw. In the Auckland race I did try a funny route, I spotted a big storm coming in from SE and went south of Great Barrier Island to pick it up first. That did not quite work out, but I had a good time. In the Brisbane race I sailed deep into the red (same storm that destroyed Beau Geste) and actually did well. Of course the finish was quite impossible, and my DCs missed the line by a hair. Some things never change.

Fiji Ocean Race 2013
This happened during the Magnus Olsson Tribute. That big one. In the tribute race I had a fast start, then blew it badly and mostly went thru the motions for a while (I did win Aland and the Jubilant race in that stretch). Then I realized there would be a big reset at the NZL mark, got back to pushing hard, and well Fiji…

I’m not entirely sure why I did put up with the Fiji start tbh. Probably because my sleep would be pretty shot no matter what. Start happens at 2am outlaw time, I clear Rangitoto at 3am. I do not get along with the router on the next stretch and set a safe course, TWA for a couple hours, then CC until I wake up. That costs me a minute or two, but there are no obstacles.

The next stretch is quiet, the focus is on the waypoint in the Magnus Olsson race. A very late rounding means I’m staying up past the morning wx. Like 7am maybe? Ugh. I’m conscious in time for the noon wx. I find that
a) I’m very close and moving in the same direction as rafa. That’s good for confidence.
b) The entire fleet is east of me.
c) There’s a big windhole (high? maybe. whatever!) in front of me and the router wants to turn east.

Cross the whole fleet?? Ha!
Red: outlaw Blue: rafa


As if. I don’t have the energy for a move like that. And sometimes you have to bet on your position. For a bit of deception I don’t steer in either race for a while. Anyway the gamble pays off, west wins big time and I beat rafa by almost one hour. Good times.

Sail Fiji 2014
This one looked like a wind lottery from the start. Of course you can stack the odds with clever positioning. Yeah…

Red: outlaw Blue: aner59
Red: outlaw Blue: aner59

Long story short, this quickly turned into a two boat race against aner59. I prevailed in the end, but aner never makes it easy…

Sail Fiji 2016
As usual for Auckland starts, the islands are in the way. At least the 1am start isn’t horrible. The time between the wx and the start is spent on picking the right side of Great Barrier Island and fine tuning my course. I set a CC to Motutapu Island. After the start I can set safe DCs across the Hauraki Gulf. Great Barrier Island is cleared around 0800, I’m leading by less than a minute. At first I’m chasing the most pressure, nothing can go wrong this early.

Navigation is very simple this time around. The whole distance is covered on the same tack, there’s a bit of windshift so one draws a little arc. Also going further east gives better TWD. Bottom line it’s a balance between shorter distance (west) and greater speed (east). As usual I like speed.

The 1030 wx is critical for tactics. My initial course has me moving east of the entire fleet. As the leader increasing the distance is bad, so I shift a bit west. But when I’m not looking (1300 or so) aner and nacrr sneak east of me. That’s a huge problem!

Pink: outlaw Blue: nacrr

Naturally at 1630 I need a big correction to the east. My margin has gone from solid to slim. And at 2230 I get another correction, now aner and nacrr are even. This phase of the race may not look exciting from the outside, but it’s really the key and quite hard. I need to keep the gap as close as possible, but not close in too fast or I would concede ground. That’s a really fine line. The only good news is that anyone west of me, read most of the fleet, is out of contention.

Sundays updates are more benign and the race settles down. By Sunday night I have good control and Monday is an easy cruise. It’s my third Fiji win, and the fastest by far. Thanks to you all… aner59, always a handfull. And nacrr, rafa and all the other excellent racers.

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