Following a weekend of gales and thunderstorms, Tuesday dawned bright and calm and, thanks to many crossed fingers, the fine conditions held for a flawless evening of close racing in a warm, light breeze and slack tide.
Flawless, that is, apart from the obvious lacuna in your correspondent's crew (bloody no-show lawyers. They are the WORST). In fact, the beats favoured a double-handed set-up - but the spinnaker sets did not...
Willzy, fresh from his extended sojourn in Hong Kong, took the early advantage aboard Feng Shui (1348) up the left hand side in Race 1. The bulk of the fleet fought over the meagre breeze at the boat end and made a late start. By the time they had hit their straps, the work was in the bag.
Your correspondent, ably assisted (that is to say, carried, by Ellie Aldridge) made a strong start and rounded in about third. At this point, we really weren't missing our AWOL middle-man and his ham-fisted trimming, but at the mark-rounding Tortuga (779) hemorrhaged places as the spinnaker set proved heavy going for two pairs of hands.
The run was closer than the uphill, with a few cat's paws of pressure batting the fleet into a tighter cluster at the bottom mark. The second beat saw an obvious breeze gradient left to right which caught out a few and on the run Feng Shui held on for the win from Maverick (1077) and Echelon (1083).
The fleet started well in Race 2 in slightly more pressure, again split left and right on an even course both up and downwind. As the pressure started to fail Upfront (814) took the win from Valsheda (950) and Feng Shui (1348).
Race 3 was a drifter and despite a marked boat-end bias at the gun, pressure proved to be the critical factor. Those heading left built an impressive lead in the better breeze and as your correspondent drifted accross the line, Captain Pete (716) was barely visible on the far horizon.
In a pronounced right shift and dying pressure the race was shortened to one lap with Feng Shui taking out a second bullet from Upfront and Captain Pete.
All in all a fine evening - with many thanks to the Race Committee for three very efficient, quick-fire races.
Results here (flight) and here (series).
Report By Hayden Whitburn
Two races were completed in some strong gusty conditions with some very exciting racing.
It was all on at the start with Fengi Shui (905) leading the charge from the pin, clear ahead of Upfront (814), Etchelon (1083) and Valsheda (1348). With the gusty conditions, it was all about playing the shifts. However, the left proved to come through for Upfront (814) which lead at the top with Fengi Shui (1348) and Valsheda (950) close behind.
Upfront had spinnaker Issues and was passed by both boats down the run with Fengi Shui now taking the lead and Valsheda right on their transom around the bottom.
Upfront (814) choose the left again, which proved to be favoured again, but not enough to catch Fengi Shui. Valsheda had a superb hoist and passed Upfront to the finish.
Again the left side paid dividends and Upfront (814) lead around the top from Etchelon, having a great beat with the help of Grant Loretz – Americas Cup Veteran - Fengi Shui a close 3rd, followed by Valsheda.
Upfront had spinnaker issues again and Fengi Shui and Echelon both passed to leeward. However, Upfront finally got it together, got a big puff and managed to gybe and cross ahead to lead around the bottom mark.
These positions held for the upwind leg, so it was all down to the final downwind. Fengi Shui had a better hoist and managed to soak inside Upfront, but they managed to find a puff and gybe ahead to clear Fengi Shui to take the Bullet.
Valsheda sailed superbly downwind to pass Echelon to claim 3rd place.
The Fleet headed to Swashbucklers for a final debrief and was presented with prizes for every boat by of Stephen Brayshaw of Ronstan - to whom many thanks.
Thanks also to Joshua McCormick for being RO, Allan Fraser for supplying his fine vessel and Matthew Caldwell from North Sails.
Results are here (flight) and here (overall)
Fine conditions, but a fickle breeze eventually confounded the the RNZYS race committee and saw the fleet retire for an early bath after two exacting races on the flooding tide.
Top mark identification provided a poser on leg one of race one and some boats never quite recovered from plumbing for the wrong yellow buoy. Your correspondent gamely attempted to redress the error with a late, footing charge from the port lay-line (known hereabouts as 'a Prydie'), bailed, fouled Captain Pete (906) and then - to the perplexity and consternation of his crew - performed a rarely seen manoeuvre known as 'circles'.
The long, up-tide run provided passing opportunities and culminated in a difficult rounding, which saw the fleet compress and re-shuffle, but Valsheda (950) held on for a solid win from Upfront (814) and Feng Shui (1348).
Race two was a very similar affair. The breeze died on the first downwind rounding and the following fleet scrambled to get round. It was very close at the next mark, but again Maverick (950) held out for another strong bullet over a late-charging Echelon (1083) and Upfront (814).
Many congratulations to fleet members Anatole Masfen and Andrew Wills (not to mention skipper Dirk Kneulman) for their top-ten finish at the Etchells World Championships in Hong Kong (and also to Anatole for making it out for Flight 3).
Many thanks to the RNZYS Race Officers and their crew.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
Next week's racing is presented by RONSTAN, with the usual great racing enhanced by some awesome Ronstan prizes and of course drinks at Swashbucklers.
Conditions were perfect for the 2015 Etchells Invitational with a 12 knot westerly breeze, sunshine and an enthusiastic crowd, comprising some new and some familiar faces.
ROs Warwick and Theresa Gair aboard Allan Fraser's shiny new RIB (for which many thanks) got away 4 single-lap, quick fire races.
Although no single boat dominated, the top three places of night went to guest helms, with Stefan Goldwater aboard Lincoln Faser's Valsheda (950) taking first place. Paul Murray and Carl Evans shared second place aboard Hayden Whitburn's Upfront (814) and Ed Crooke took third place aboard Hugh Rebbeck's Echelon (1083). Fleet newcomer, Alistair Campbell took 4th and the incumbents (led by Pelle Petersen aboard Vilda Hilda (906)) will need to lift their game, or else may wish to suggest that they were sand-bagging as part of the overall marketing strategy...
Aboard Tortuga (779) guest-helm, Ellie Aldridge, demonstrated both yachting prowess and saintly patience for her crew (viz. your correspondent and his part-time middle-man, Dom Lundon), who struggled with a Gordian tangle of knitting before settling into a study in ineptitude. While posting a 4th place in race 3, Ellie deserved much better overall.
Simon Craddock aboard Andrew Fraser's Spitfire (1077) remained in touch with the incumbents and was unlucky to finish 9th overall on the count-back.
As the light faded on the race-course, a cheerful fleet returned to Z Pier for a dock-side beer post-game analysis. As a fleet, we sincerely hope that our guests will return - perhaps as new owners...
Many thanks again to our Race Officers, Warwick and Thereesa Gair and to Allan Fraser for kindly donating his RIB and time. Thanks also to Richard Gladwell and sail-world.com for coverage and action photography.
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.