The first day of the winter series had something for everyone, laughter, tears, sunshine, rain, breeze and breezelessness. The day started unpromisingly with 3 cry-offs, but this herd-thinning did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the remaining crews who set off from Z Pier into a light but promising breeze and the first warmth of spring sunshine on their backs.
Those who had tuned for the lulls were rewarded in race 1 where the tide carried the entire drifting, windless, pre-start fleet prematurely over the line. Feng Shui was the first to re-cross and set off down-tide. Valsheda followed but Echelon struggled in the current and a match race ensued.
Your correspondent had his eyes glued to the kite on the downwind legs, but suffice it to say that what was initially identified by the bowman as a building breeze was actually driving rain, which persisted through the second work, where Feng Shui fought off a spirited fight-back from Valsheda.
Echelon gamely re-joined the action on the second beat, but faded on the run as sunshine and building breeze saw Feng Shui over the finish line first, while in an act of filial petulance, Valsheda's skipper berated the blameless race committee…
By the start of the second race, a steady breeze had settled, the tide was slack and the skies had cleared. User-error with the stop-watch aboard Feng Shui accounted for a late push to the pin, while Valsheda and Echelon both crossed on starboard and flopped to the right then back onto port with Valsheda taking the middle lane.
Echelon pushed to the seemingly-favoured left, but at the top mark was some distance behind Valsheda and a leading Feng Shui. The first run was close as Valsheda sought to reach past the leader on both gybes on the squarish course, but Feng Shui held on and edged over first.
In a freshening breeze, the third start saw Feng Shui push Valsheda over the start but fail, epically, by also crossing early at the boat end, leaving Echelon to take the left. Re-crossing the line, Feng Shui and Valsheda went to the right in breeze and at the top mark Feng Shui was just ahead, while Valsheda and Echelon rounded together. At the bottom, Valsheda had prevailed over Echelon for second and the same order was repeated.
In grlorious spring-time conditions, a bonus fourth race produced the closest racing of the series. Valsheda crossed the line early, just ahead of Echelon at the boat, while Feng Shui - also over - ducked back to the pin end. Echelon sprinted up the middle of the course as Feng Shui struck right and Valsheda plumbed for the left corner.
At the first mark, Echelon rounded and pulled away from Feng Shui, while Valshda also closed fast from third (blame the trimmer). On the second work (to an upwind finish) Echelon struggled to cover a split fleet, lee-bowed Valsheda, but let Feng Shui go in the last quarter of the beat, just losing out to secure second.
While Feng Shui managed four bullets, the racing was close and, notwithstanding an early soaking, the afternoon glorious. We can only hope that we see more starters for the next outing on 26th August.
Many thanks, as always, to the excellent race committee.
See results here.
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.