After last week's fluky conditions, Flight 4 of the Tuesday Night Series was eagerly anticipated and well-attended by a spirited fleet, which included season-newcomer Mike Sanderson at the helm of Affinity (17).
A peppy southerly promised to shake a few things lose out on the Waitemata and Johnny Melville aboard Bobby's Girl (1058) was prompted to break out the No.1 sail wardrobe, buoyed no doubt, by last week's commendable season début.
The sound of flogging canvas set hearts racing throughout the fleet as the first start lined-up - particularly aboard the committee boat, Sine Wave, where John and Megan Kensington nervously eyed their fresh gel-coat.
Unused to the fresher conditions, a majority of the fleet crossed early, but after a re-start, all settled into their work in the turning tide.
From this point on, your correspondent's attention to his fellow competitors waned as, after a serviceable start Waiwera's (1240) main outhaul parted and a jury rig was quickly assembled before the start of race 2 by the very able Richard Smith and Gareth Rowan.
At the finish, Bobby's Girl (1058) romped home from Valsheda (950) and Feng Shui (1348) just pipped Mike Sanderson in Affinity (17) for third.
In Race 2 Waiwera (1240) pulled off a well-timed start and the fleet took the bit between its teeth for a strong beat through a descending fleet of racers under spinnaker. A the top mark (layed just off the Squadron) Waiwera hit the lay-line and tacked in about 4th when Upfront (814) arrived unexpectedly on port and undertook some alterations.
Effusive in his apologies, Scott Kennedy and Upfront (814) gallantly escorted Waiwera (1240) back to the dock. Regretfully, therefore you will have to rely upon the results to gain a fuller impression of what occurred thereafter. Briefly, however, Valsheda (950) won Race 2 from Bobby's Girl (1058) and Feng Shui (1348). In Race 3 Valsheda (950) took another bullet from Echelon (1379) and Footloose (914).
In the overall standings, Valsheda (950) and Feng Shui (1348) are pulling away, but there is much still to play for further back and the series is far from over (at least I hope so...)
Some have suggested that it is windage, resulting from your correspondent’s massive bulk, others have speculated, more tactfully perhaps, that the back of the fleet offers a better vantage point for these reports, but whatever the reason, Waiwera (1240) has, rather depressingly, secured a slot in economy class, quite near the loos, over the last two outings.
What is worse, due to a phenomenon that astronomers refer to as Doppler shift, it is surprisingly difficult to distinguish the relative positions of distant objects that are moving away from you, rapidly, so I hope that you will forgive me if this report more than usually subjective and lacking in factual detail.
It was a beautiful spring evening that saw a fleet of 12 Etchells beat into a stable northerly that gave every appearance of building. But it was all a horrible, fickle pretence and by sunset, the self-same fleet was beating home into a freshening southerly with two, shifty, patchy and (for some) maddening races in the bag – bringing the series total to eight, with Valsheda (950) leading overall, from Feng Shui (1348) and Upfront (814).
Briefly then, Race 1 started off the Viaduct Basin into a tentative breeze and ebbing tide and ended in a bun fight as an ascendant southerly competed fitfully with a dying northerly - with boats crossing the finish line on virtually every point of sail.
It was good to see Bobby’s Girl (1058) competing for line honours after Johnny Melville’s long spell on the beach (and, paradoxically, Bobby’s Girl’s brief, unplanned, sojourn in the drink).
The start of Race 2 was quickly and efficiently re-positioned off Bayswater by the excellent Race Committee, as the wind completed its about-face - and proved to be a contest far more suited to those who prefer their windward-leewards to occur on alternating legs of the race.
Waiwera (1240) squandered a near-perfect start, failing to maintain momentum through a treacherous minefield of lulls and shifts. Steadier heads and hands capitalised and Bobby’s Girl (1058) ultimately triumphed.
Many thanks to the race committee for its swift decisiveness in trying conditions.
Well, what a difference a week makes. Or not, as the case may be: After last week’s drifter, conditions for flight 2 were near-perfect with around 12 knots of cross-tide breeze and a fleet of 10 making the most of it. At the business end of the fleet, after six races, the top four remain unchanged, albeit re-ordered, with Valsheda II (950) now in pole position.
Further down the table, however, there is still everything to play for, with a few snakes and ladders having shaken up the order a little. This is where those DNCs start to add up, so, please take advantage of an excellent pool of available crew if short-handedness is keeping you on the beach (please just email me if you need crew).
In Race 1 ‘Team GTR’ (1379) had picked a slight bias at the pin and crossed the whole fleet on port Gangham Style, before inexplicably capitulating to Valsheda II (950) in a closely fought beat. To be honest, I don’t know what ‘GTR’ stands for, but my guess is ‘Guess Tactics Randomly’. Clearly this is the fault of the alleged tactician, Al Gwyer, rather than the excellent (and very welcome) helm.
Those who stayed left on the first work regretted the ebbing tide at the top mark, where starboard-tackers were neatly lee-bowed to the lay-line. The first run split the fleet – again the tide beguiling many to the left - and producing an orderly log-jam at the downhill mark. Your correspondent, on Waiwera (1240), entered too fine and exited too wide, executing a ‘Tokyo drift’ from third to something-that-looked-a-looked- like-last, as better men rounded inside.
The second work was more closely fought and it was gratifying to witness some tactical engagements that saw several boats pick their way through the fleet.
On the final run, most were wise to the effect of the tide and fought at close-quarters to protect their breeze. Valsheda II (950) crossed the line first, with Echelon (1379) a deserving second.
The start in Race 2 was close, but evenly spread, and forced the entire fleet on a drag race to the left corner, where Feng Shui (1348) popped out ahead and took an impressive lead, which they held to the top mark.
On the run, the breeze seemed to fill from the left, propelling a tightly-spaced phalanx of starboard-tackers into the bottom mark, threatening those who had counted on a ferry-glide directly to the mark. Feng Shui (1348) easily rounded ahead, but Waiwera (1240) was a boat-length off the pace and went backwards around the mark. Feng Shui (1348) never lost the lead.
It was a great pleasure to see 716 (the blue boat) – a Sailability crew- enter the fray for this flight. A pleasure only slightly diminished for your correspondent by their pushing Waiwera (1240) into the committee boat (squarely, but quite fairly) at the start of Race 3. Although an habitual stoic, your corresponded was moved to mutter profanities as he circled the committee boat (jeered, mark you, jeered, by the committee itself), but I was assured by Rob (skipper of 716), when I de-briefed him at Swashbucklers, that this will prove to be a character-building experience.
Anyway, Valsheda II (950) took out Race 3, apparently. Waiwera (1240) would have totally taken it out, given another lap, judging by the awesome gains we made on the first (and only) lap of the shortened course.
Many, many thanks to Megan Kensington and Sam for running the race committee, particularly as Megan is walking wounded and Sam is young and free and cannot possibly have picked this as a Tuesday-night activity in a month of Sundays, unless, Willzy threatened him in some way.
Once again, please bear in mind that we rely entirely on the kindness of volunteers to make this happen - so please do not take them for granted.
A FEW HOUSE-KEEPING THINGS
1. I hope you are enjoying the refreshments on the way home – sponsored by Coast New Zealand. If so, please help out by chucking empties into the bin and leaving your cooler bag on the dock. I am missing two cooler bags – please return next week if you have them.
2. The form-signing thing will allow us to incorporate as a society and put one or two financial things on a more formal footing. However, obligations of owners and crew will remain essentially the same:
Owners will have obligations to pay for hard-standing and crane fees and to join the class association (via the fleet) – and crew will be strongly encouraged to join the association (by their skippers, hopefully) and will be required to do so when entering the class championships.
There have obviously already been outgoings this season and, as previously advised, a reckoning will be made next week.
See results here
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.