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Helly Hansen Three Kings Race off to a rough start - two early withdrawals

by Suellen Hurling/Royal NZ Yacht Squadron 13 Apr 14:41 NZST 13 April 2024
Helly Hansen Three Kings Race © Suellen Hurling

After a delayed start, 15 Category 2 racing yachts lined up for the start of the 2024 Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Helly Hansen Three Kings Race in less-than-ideal conditions. 30+ knot squalls ripped across the start line, with torrential rain dampening the start of the 500nm race.

While the conditions were challenging, the start still got away at the new time of 0900 on Friday 12th April.

With reefs in mains, and wet weather gear the clothing of choice, the RNZYS race management team flew Code Flag Y indicating that all crew must wear lifejackets.

The first casualty was the Sunfast 3300 Indis who suspended racing after ripping reefing points from their main.

“We ripped the leech on the start line. Slightly gutted as the boat sailed well and Andy nailed the start. But better for this to happen now than at the Three Kings!” said Nigel in a message back to Race Management.

The shorthanded team of Andy Benton & Nigel Cherrie got the sail off the boat and to the North Sails loft who repaired it in record time and the team resumed the race.

However just 45 minutes later when off Takapuna, with the team advised they were officially retiring from the race.

“There’s a big seaway, we’re out of sync with the rest of the fleet and we’re just not feeling it. This race isn’t for us,” said crew member Nigel.

Vixen also had issues early on and sent a crew member up the rig to check things out, however, they were moderately injured during the process. Vixen has withdrawn from the race and is now back in Westhaven, and all crew are reported to be ok with no medical assistance needed. Vixen was welcomed back to the dock with a bucket of rum and coke to ease their pain.

Brian Petersen’s TP52 V5 has also withdrawn after their main track was torn off the mast. All crew are reportedly ok, and the boat is returning to its berth in Westhaven Marina.

“Very disappointing…” said Petersen as the team was under motor heading home.

“We will be investigating how this happened and try to get things fixed as quickly as possible,” continued Petersen. The team were using the Helly Hansen Three Kings Race as a major training session ahead of the Auckland Noumea Yacht Race which starts at the end of May.

The Ross 930 Hotdogger, who worked tirelessly to get the boat up to Category 2, have suspended racing due to damage to the top two main cars. They are currently in Gulf Harbour Marina with Gulf Harbour Covers helping them out so they can rejoin the race.

Clockwork has reported they have lost their VHF aerial from the top of the mast and have reverted to the emergency communications plan to keep in touch throughout the race.

Meanwhile the rest of the fleet is trucking north and starting to dry out with blue skies and the sun shining. A stark difference from the conditions at the start of the race just hours earlier.

Wired has taken an early lead and is ahead of Equilibrium on line.

Rum Bucket is currently at the top of the PHRF Leaderboard, with Akonga sitting pretty at the top of the shorthanded PHRF results.

The Helly Hansen team were out for the start of the race to take in all the action that the conditions provided.

After the withdrawals, there are now 12 yachts still vying for Three Kings Race victory.

Each of the yachts competing in the 2024 Helly Hansen Three Kings Race is fitted with a YB Tracker so that supporters at home can follow the action as it unfolds.

The tracker will provide valuable information including speed over ground, distance to go, and overall provisional results as the fleet finishes.

Available on the race website, and directly from the YB Tracking app for iPhone and Android, the tracker will be one of the vital places for race information.

Direct link to the tracker when viewing on a computer: yb.tl/3kings2024

In addition to this, each yacht will provide position reports to Maritime Radio NZ at 0820 and 2020 for as long as they are racing.

Updates will also be provided on the Helly Hansen Three Kings Race Facebook page (www.facebook.com/threekingsrace) and via the RNZYS Instagram page, and the race website – rnzys.org.nz/rnzys-events/three-kings-offshore-race

Those competing in the race are encouraged to provide updates and will be eligible for a stack of prizes thanks to Helly Hansen. Sailors can tag @rnzys and @hellyhansenanz to be eligible for these prizes. Alternatively, sailors can provide their content directly to the social media race contact via WhatsApp number +6421892004.

The major prize is a $12,000 OMEGA Seamaster timepiece which will be awarded to the top placed RNZYS boat on PHRF overall which will be presented at the official prize giving ceremony at 1900 hours on Friday the 3rd of May at RNZYS.

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