North Sails LOFT NEWS

THE ANNUAL COASTAL CLASSIC FROM AUCKLAND TO RUSSELL TURNED ON ANOTHER GREAT RACE FOR THE 150 COMPETITORS.

A moderate southwesterly provided a fresh reach up the coast and a quick, if not record-breaking ride for the front runners, many of which carried North sails.

The headline battle this year was between giant trimarans Frank Racing and Beau Geste, recently arrived in New Zealand from Hawaii. Simon Hull’s ORMA60 Frank usually has the front of the field pretty much to itself; this year it faced a stiff challenge from the newer, larger MOD70.

North staff members were aboard both boats, with production manager Guy Hewson, sailing aboard Frank, facing off against Matt Kelway from the Auckland sales office.

Hewson says the Frank team enjoyed rising to the challenge of racing Beau Geste.

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting the boat ready specifically for this race, including making a new force zero carbon gennaker,” he says.

After being held up at the start by their rival, Frank got its nose in front after going outside Tiritiri Matangi Island, and stayed in the lead and further offshore until the two boats came back together at Cape Brett at the entrance to the Bay of Islands. The Frank team got the best of a change of breeze here, to beat in to Russell and finish in just over six hours, nearly nine minutes ahead of their rival.

“This is the first Coastal we’ve done with the boat where we haven’t put a reef in,” Hewson says. “We were probably pushing more than we normally would, but knowing their main was a bit smaller than ours, we knew they wouldn’t reef so we wouldn’t put one in either.”

There was also a good battle between the big monohulls in division 1A. Anatole Masfen’s Fast 52 Temptation was second on line and took out handicap honours, with North sales and marketing manager Andrew Wills aboard.

“The boat was really well set up for coastal racing, rather than inshore stuff like some of the other 52s are,” says Wills. “It’s a little bit beamier and we have an inventory of R sails for reaching, which really came into play.”

After starting under gennaker, the crew peeled to an A3, then to a R2 at Kawau, which they held for the majority of the ride up the coast.

“It’s a really quick boat but it also sailed more efficiently with this sail, driving mor forwards rather than slipping sideways like it would with the A3 on,” he says. “We had a genoa staysail set inside it, which felt really good and was a really nice set-up for the boat.

“We’d also done a lot of homework on the weather, so we knew before the race 100 per cent where we were going and we stuck to that game plan.”

North Sails Auckland general manager Richard Bicknell also sailed in division 1A, on Elliott 50 Ran Tan II, which finished fifth on PHRF. For this crew, the emphasis was on preparation for this year’s Sydney-Hobart race, and for the Coastal the boat had a new North FRO (fractional code zero) and A5 gennaker.

“We basically finished the race, turned around and started sailing back, to do a bit more training for the Hobart,” says Bicknell. “It was a really good race, and a good opportunity to see the performance of the new FRO, before the boat heads over to Australia in mid-November.”

Also sailing in the race was North salesman Matt Steven, who made the trip on new 18.5 metre Roger Hill catamaran Cation. Despite being ostensibly a cruising boat, set up for two-handed sailing, she finished seventh on line, and Steven says owner Graham Catley was excited about the boat’s performance.

“He was reminding us the whole time that it is a cruising boat, but now there are a few things he wants to change to make its downwind performance better, including looking at a loose-luff running gennaker.”

North Sails appeared on many other boats in the fleet, including Division 2 winner Simply Red, single-handed division winner Katana (the former Sunfast 3600 owned by North Sails legend Josh Tucker, now owned by Nigel Garman), and the all-women’s crew on Cosmic Cruz, skippered by Tash Fickling.