Competitors in the Evolution Sails Round North Island Race are looking forward to some helpful conditions on the final leg from Napier to Auckland.
The 37 boats across four divisions set off from Napier this morning and should enjoy mostly reaching and downwind conditions for most of the 367 nautical mile journey north.
The previous three legs have offered similar scenarios - a nice ride for the start with a reach and then downwind send, followed by turning a corner and then a headwind slog.
It was certainly the case in the 200nm third leg from Wellington to Napier, and some boats reached speeds in excess of 20 knots out of the capital.
Cape Palliser was affectionately renamed the washing machine by many in the fleet with some challenging transition in lumpy seas on the first night at sea.
Krakatoa II, skippered by Matt Flynn and Scott Wilson, had to retire from the leg at Cape Palliser with damage to their mast support strut. They returned to Wellington to sure up the mast.
In division one, Wired continued their dominance by taking out both line and handicap honours, followed by Anarchy, Blink and then Mr Kite.
In division two Laissez Faire II skippered by Rodney Keenan and Mike Beasley took out the double with a strong start in Wellington keeping them ahead of the pack for the leg north. Second on handicap was Clockwork, who continued their consistently strong performance and third was Higher Ground.
Each leg of this race has seen one of the smaller fleet punch above their weight and for the third leg it was Waka skippered by Sam Cremer and Brett Elliott.
Waka was well in the mix with the division one yachts as they headed out of Wellington Heads and carried this performance through the Cape Palliser transition and a successful beat north to take the handicap win in division three. Motorboat II was second and Katana third.
Distraction skippered by Guy Mannering and Matt Perry came back from a frustrating second leg to take first on handicap and second on line in division four.
Moving Violation, the smallest yacht in the fleet, continued their impressive performance with second on handicap and Pelagian II, skippered by Kurt Boyle and Matt Burkhardt, were third on handicap.
“While the conditions have been a mixed bag, at times with no breeze and at others 50 plus knots and plenty of on-the-wind sailing, the fact that we still have 37 yachts in this race is a credit to the preparation and skills of the skippers involved," race director Jon Henry said.
"Each leg has seen close competition with a variety of boats at the front of each division and the overall result will come down to leg four. The final leg is shaping up to be the send that our fleet has been waiting for, with reaching and downwind conditions expected for most of the leg.”