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A girl's first blue water crossing: The Tasman Sea on Romanza

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

Jaz Knowles, co owner of Romanza, the Rapido 60, reflects below on her first ever blue water crossing. Jaz sailed on Romanza from New Zealand to Australia for two regattas in August / September 2018.

Jaz Knowles has recently completed her first ever blue water crossing.
Jaz Knowles has recently completed her first ever blue water crossing.

The lure of Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks and the glorious Whitsunday Islands (Queensland, Australia) was the incentive for us to make the enormous effort to get ourselves and Romanza ready in time.

Would we make the crossing to Australia?

The odds of making it, or not, were pretty evenly stacked.

We had a new boat, new crew, so much to do and a big stretch of Tasman Sea from Auckland (New Zealand) to McKay (Australia) on the one hand while on the other hand, we had a purpose-built, passage-making trimaran; four talented, experienced, competent sailors - plus Sam and me, both relatively inexperienced. Sam's no slug, mind you; smart as a whip, nimble, a surfer and so understands winds, tides, etc. And brave! Guess who was whisked up the mast when we needed to retrieve a broken halyard?

Sam does a mighty job up the mast on Romanza while crossing the Tasman Sea.
"Smart as a whip Sam" scampers up the mast on Romanza while crossing the Tasman Sea.

Not ones to invite risk, we upped the safety to New Zealand Category 1 (NZ Cat 1) level, engaged Bob McDavitt (MetBob, Bob McDavitt!) as back up weather router, abolished all alcohol and packed our winter woollies.

The end of July saw us mixing with whales, dolphins and seals as a smooth horizon beckoned us north.

Day 2 of crossing the Tasman Sea

On Day 2 we are sailing nice and level at 12 knots when the suggestion is made to put a reef in the mainsail (there is a long way to go... we are safety-conscious boys from the Navy).

"Mmmm", we say with a smile to the guys whose experience is mostly on monohulls. "Let’s just leave it a bit to see, shall we?"

Day 4

By Day 4 we serve lunch to big smiles all 'round the table: 17 knots, the dials read!

The boys who love to sail are so happy as we are now “champagne sailing” with no concerns.

Jaz Knowles, crosses the Tasman Sea on Romanza, the Rapido 60..
Jaz Knowles, crosses the Tasman Sea on Romanza, the Rapido 60..

All of us and Romanza are loving it. It’s what she was made for and now we know the Rapido 60 better and trust her.

She is fast and everyone gets this. It’s easy - and did I mention fun? The miles tick by effortlessly.

Dinners for us had been prepared and then frozen at home. We enjoy superb hot meals together each night (mushroom-free for Hamish and Phil).

But what didn't we get?

  • We didn’t get a fish even though we so, so, tried every day! Not even Brad's experience and constant energy (great having him on board!) could get a hook up.

  • Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough days with wind as there was a big high over the Tasman and the motor went on more than we would like!

  • We didn’t get sea sick!

  • We didn’t escape without mechanical incident!! The aft loo flush pump needed parts on arrival in Australia.

  • We broke a halyard and Sam was hoisted up the mast!! (Now we love the flat sea...)

  • We didn’t have dirty clothes. The washing machine was a great asset and clothes dry so quickly on the trampoline nets. The Rapido builders struggled when I first insisted I wanted a full sized washing machine on this new performance multi. But hey, it is removable for racing.

  • We didn’t get a warm welcome from Australian Border Force (they just don’t like people arriving by boat and we were in BIG trouble for arriving inside the 96 hour minimum notice period. We thought we were going to be fined big, big Aussie $. Be warned fellow boaties!)

  • We didn’t get a win in our first regattas but we are such proud holders of two seconds and a third!!

  • We didn’t get enough. We have to go back and see more of our favourite sea creatures, the whales. It’s impossible not to grin, point and shout as they breach just for us - and they did that almost every day.

  • We didn’t get close enough to the Great Barrier Reef to go diving and explore it while it’s still alive. It’s a bucket list item not yet ticked.

  • And lastly we didn’t get enough sailing on our new trimaran to be satisfied.

Summary of the Rapido 60 and first blue water crossing

Crewing on a 60 foot multi is something else in terms of comfort during passage-making and then having the performance needed for racing.

No "roughing it" was necessary and for a girl like me on her first blue water trip, it’s everything I could ever have wanted!!

Phil, Brad, Hamish, Sam, Dougall and I had a great adventure and I can’t wait for more.

Where to next winter??

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