A number of crews in the SSANZ Two Handed Round New Zealand Race were counting the cost of a punishing second leg, with breakages and damage a common theme on the seven boats.
Titanium, sailed by Shane Bellingham and Chris Skinner, had a stellar leg over the 930 nautical miles from Mangonui in Northland to Stewart Island, taking both first on line by more than a day and first on handicap. They now hold a 21-hour lead on corrected time overall over Motorboat II (Josh Tucker and Damon Jolliffe), who were second into Stewart Island.
But it was a dramatic leg for Motorboat II, who broke their prod off Milford Sound. After a callout for help through social media, a new one was made by NZ Rigging, personally delivered by AJ Reid and it arrived in Stewart Island before the boat did (by about 15 minutes).
Motorboat II also took the most scenic route to Stewart Island, with a short stop in Dusky Sound and then again in Chalky Inlet to escape the weather, repair damage and to make the boat ready for getting round the corner at Puyesgur Point.
They weren't the only ones to battle with the challenging conditions which included big holes with no wind, tide pushing them backwards and around in circles, 50-knot winds, massive waves and confused sea states.
Katana (Nigel Garland and Cory McLennan) had the most challenging leg, with damage to the mast track progressively getting worse, preventing the use of the mainsail and leading to them sailing the last part of the leg under storm tri sail.
Gale Force (Ken Ormandy and Sam Tucker) saw their racing main ripped in two and they will need to use their cruising mainsail for the remaining legs, and Arbitare (Murray Hartely and Dave Ormandy) also had a few sails that needed repair.
The crews have little time to rest up, with the third leg to Napier due to get under way on Saturday at 2pm.
Crews will need to make a number of key decisions during the 618 nautical miles to Napier, especially off the Canterbury coast and when passing the Wairarapa Coast, which can be inhospitable.
The weather pattern off the Canterbury coast can often alternate between a sea breeze during the day and a land breeze at night due to the heating and cooling of the plains.
The key decision for the sailors will be how far to stay off the coast. Too far and they might lose the benefit of the offshore land breeze, too close and they might have less strength in the sea breeze compared to those further out.
North of Christchurch, the Kaikoura Ranges might cause the wind to stir into back eddies with local gusts streaming out of the valleys.
The third leg is expected to take between four and six days with light wind conditions forecast for the first stage of this leg.
The SSANZ Two Handed Round New Zealand Race, proudly sponsored by the NZL Sailing Foundation, is New Zealand’s biggest yachting challenge. It's now into its third edition, 29 years after the inaugural event took place.
The race started in Auckland with the first leg to Mangonui in the far north (154NM).
You can follow the progress of the yachts on the race tracker.