One of the aims was to return to Spirit for the Tahiti Pearl Regatta better known locally as the TPR in May. So after the delivery from the Galapagos it was a quick flight up to the boat, which was still on the hard at the CNI shipyard here in Raiatea.
Spirit was in fine condition having been looked after by Cathy while I was away. We decided not to anti foul the boat as I dive on her weekly and scrub the bottom. So it was a couple of days before she was i the water and ready to go.
My good mate Johnny joined us for a couple of months sailing and it was great to have him onboard helping out. There was a lot of work to be done to her rigging and sails as it had all be in stowage stripped before we left her here last August.
After a week of work we had everything sorted and were off doing some sail trials and getting everyone up to speed on the boat and her layout and sailing abilities.
The weather for the regatta looked awesome light winds from the north east to south east and perfect blue skies. Early in the season is definitely the best time to cruise this area. You get the lighter airs as the trades haven't settled in yet and it's a much nicer way to see the islands. Later on you get the stronger trades from 20-30kts and they can hang in there for 7-10 days!
The TPR is run over 4-5 days depending upon whether you count the practice day. We had a practice race on the first day around the lagoon in Raiatea and then the races were as follows.
Race 1 - practice race in-between Raiatea and Tahaa in the lagoon about 7nm long
The first race started with very little wind. It slowly built and by the end we had a nice 10kts of breeze and the boat was powered up nicely. Spirit sprinted away from everyone in the light airs and took the first race easily beating every boat across the line by more than 20 mins. It was a great start to the regatta but showed us that we had no real competition, which was a bit of a shame.
Race 2 - race from Raiatea to Bora Bora 25nm
We had a late start but by the first mark we were in front and with the light airs and our big WMD's as we call them we were off. We have named our light air reachers WMD's as they truly were that in this regatta. As soon as they were up our apparent just came around and increased and we were off in our own breeze scooting along. It was an awesome run out of the lagoon and across to Bora Bora in the light airs. We were doing more than the wind speed and Spirit loved the flat conditions and long sprint across to Bora Bora where we finished more than an hour in front of the next boat and up to three hours in front of some of the monos!
Race 3 - race from Bora Bora to Raiatea 20nm
This race had some nice breeze at the start with the wind coming down the valley in Bora Bora onto the start. We had another late start but weren't too worried about it. We thought it better to be late and keep away from everyone else especially while doing 10-15kts along the start area. Spirit rounded the top mark in front and took off running deep as we could to the lagoon exit and along the reef where we then headed out and across to the reef entrance in Tahaa. This race was crazy as we even beat the comity boat to the finish line and had to radio in when we thought we had crossed the finish line. Lots of fun in the higher breeze of around 15kts. Again we took the win for first across the line, which really meant we just got more drinking time in at the end of the days racing!
Race 4 - race around Tahaa within the lagoon 20nm
Another awesome day with clear skies and 15-20kts of breeze. We did two races this day and short windward and leeward course followed by the around Tahaa race. We won both easily and took to the anchorage where we had nice cold beers and a swim.
In summarising the regatta we all had the time of our lives. It's a very well put together regatta around some of the most beautiful sailing areas in the world. We have sailed some pretty cool places and done some of the big name regattas but this left them all for dead. The parties each night, the organisation and scenery is second to none. If your in the area or looking for a regatta to do in a beautiful spot this has to be on your list.
The regattas back home in Australia are also pretty good but the clear lagoons, flat water racing and the parties each night leave them for dead. The only thing we missed was some serious competition and some later start times. Each morning we were up very early for 8:30am starts!
I have to say the regattas in Thailand are also pretty good. There is a great multihull scene up there, like back in Australia and the scenery and parties are very well organised each day and just cap the racing off perfectly.
So all in all we had the time of our lives. We took the trophy for the "Temps Real" which means for the fast boat around the course in real time. And got three nights in the Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Not bad for a fun filled three days doing what you love!