Big Adventure | Little Boat | Back Country Cuisine

Big Adventure | Little Boat

25 January 2023


Lucy Te Moananui


My name is Lucy Te Moananui. I am a sailor, surfer and school teacher from Kaikōura. I have decided to go for my dream of entering a solo offshore race. The Solo Trans-Tasman, 2023. Leaving from New Plymouth Yacht Club in Taranaki, Aotearoa - New Zealand, finishing in Southport Yacht Club, Gold Coast, Australia. I have a lot of work to do to get to the start line, many upgrades to the boat, getting her to NZ CAT 1 standard, practicing my storm tactics and solo sailing. I am going to give it all a good go.

“The Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Challenge competitors spend days at sea alone and pit their skills, mental capacity and physical agility against ferocious weather conditions, huge seas and the worry of being hit by a ship, whale or frequent gear failure.”

This is the 50th anniversary of the Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Challenge. The Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Challenge is contested every four years and is the second-oldest continuously-run single-handed ocean race in the world. It's also the only race of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the race will cover 1240 nautical miles.

I am the only female skipper to enter this year. My boat is likely to be one of the smallest vessels competing, being a Contessa at 32 ft in length. This will be an exciting and nerve-wracking adventure, pushing the limits as a solo sailor.

Kiakoura Harbor and Mountains
Lucy's Contessa 32 in Kaikoura Harbor

I have always wanted to sail across an ocean. To have a true adventure out on the open sea. As a child, growing up in the UK, landlocked in the Midlands, I dreamt of seeing a dolphin in real life. I utilised all I had available to get me in the water, this mostly involved a variety of filled in quarries for sailing my dinghy, scuba diving and a couple of nearby reservoirs for windsurfing. Fast forward a fair few years, I am preparing my Contessa 32 and myself to compete in the Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Challenge, 2023. The Solo Trans-Tasman Yacht Challenge is contested every four years and is the second-oldest continuously-run single-handed ocean race in the world. It is also the only race of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The 2023 race will cover 1240 nautical miles. This will be my first solo ocean crossing and I am excited and nervous in equal measure.

I sat on the fence for a few months with the decision to enter this race. I have a solid boat for my dream and I knew I was going to sail somewhere. I had a small adventure with a Vendee Globe competitor who retired in the Southern Ocean from the Single-handed Solo Round the World Race and pulled into port here in the South Island of New Zealand. This connection fuelled my fire for offshore single-handed racing. I have gone through three boats to find ‘the one’, a Contessa 32, Nerissa K. The Contessa 32 is a British design, seaworthy enough for offshore voyages in extreme weather conditions, but also performs well in races. The trait most often associated with the Contessa 32 though is its ability to endure harsh weather and rough seas. She is small, simple and has extremely beautiful lines.

Sailing Boat
Lucy sailing her Contessa 32

Just getting to the startline of this race will be an achievement in itself. The preparations for my boat and myself are huge. I am working hard to get us both up to spec. I have full confidence in my boat, she will continue happily long after I give up, therefore I need to prepare myself as much as I can. It is difficult to prepare oneself for the unknown. This is certainly the unknown for me. I have sailed alone before, I have sailed as skipper off the coast of the South Island in some pretty hairy weather before. I have never sailed across a notorious ocean, alone for 15-20 days, battling sleep deprivation, extreme conditions, physically and mentally with only myself to rely upon. I am interested to see how I will cope with all of this.

I live in Kaikōura, however I am preparing my boat in Nelson for the race. Currently I'm replacing all my rigging, installing new electronics, storm sails and equipment. I am refreshing my Sea Survival skills, completing my Offshore Medic courses and familiarising myself with tried and tested storm tactics.

I have two goals, the first is to cross the start line. The second, will be to complete the race, finishing in Australia within the 20 day limit. I have a few months left to continue preparations, I will be sailing solo 500 nautical miles as my qualifier for the race in January, sail to Taranaki in March and plan to cross the start line on the 9th April.

If you would like to support me, you can ‘Buy me a Coffee’ - see link.

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