Shifty conditions provided a final frisson of excitement in this last throw of the dice before the Christmas break. Hayden Whitburn aboard Upfront (814) may have been tempted to count his chickens with Valsheda (950) a DNC, but there were no dead-certs on a course bristling with false hopes and banana skins.
Only Feng Shui (1348) seemed able to pick her way faultlessly through the pratfalls to take a clean sweep, while the fortunes of the following fleet were mixed in a very close-fought flight.
Race 1 saw Feng Shui and Tortuga (779) make an early break onto port tack as the wind clocked left through 35 degrees such that the starboard layline was under the spans of the Harbour Bridge. Showing a clean pair of heels to the following fleet, Feng Shui, Upfront and Tortuga made for the downwind mark, with Tortuga creating and then losing the overlap to round in third.
With the top mark reset, the three leaders played the shifts up the middle and Tortuga was able to gain second place after Upfront pushed hard left and into a hole. Downwind, the ebbing tide began to tell and the deeper course of Tortuga allowed her to hang on to second place.
In Race 2 it was the right that paid on the first work. The long offset leg - laid close to the Westhaven breakwater - provided passing opportunities for the brave and the fleet remained very close for the run producing more than one photo-finish.
After the breeze settled for Race 3, Upfront will have been happy to take out 2nd overall (in both the flight and the season), having managed a 3. 4. 3 on the night. After a misstep in race 1, Windward (1114) posted a 3, 2 to finish 3rd in the flight.
Your correspondent once again enjoyed exceptional crew-work - and expert tactical guidance - from the English girls, Ellie and Rosie and only slipped out of the main running when failing to do as he was told.
Many congratulations, then to Feng Shui on a series win, to add to the a top-ten finish at the Worlds. Upfront (814) takes 2nd overall from Valsheda (950).
A very Merry Christmas to all Etchells sailors - with hopes that we will see more of ALL of you in 2016.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.