The second and final instalment of the winter series was characterised by perfect sailing conditions and close racing, with two boats joining the fray for the last hurrah before summer to make up a fleet of 5 in total.
Perhaps not the criritcal mass we are looking for, but with a shortish, squarish line, set close to the dock off Wynard Quarter, the first start of the afternoon was not short on drama, with several boats crowding the pin, hoping to stem the last of the floding tide on the making port tack.
All eyes were on newcomers Affinity, featuring a rock-star AC crew, a new rig and an eclectic wardrobe of sails. Bobby's Girl welcomed a new recruit, John Cobb, in the critical bowman berth and your correspondent was at the sharp end of Echelon, with Anatole Masfen having returned to his familar middle berth on Feng Shui. At the gun, Echelon had crossed early but gybed around the pin quickly and struck off to the right in clear air. Bobby's Girl suspected a general recall and seemed to slow down, never regained the pace and was ultimately ruled OCS.
The remaining four boats picked their way through shifts and gusts in a fairly steady 12 knot breeze and remained close throughout, although Feng Shui's lead was only seriously threatened on the second run to the finish. Valsheda managed a close 2nd and Affinity just pipped Echelon for third.
In race 2 Echelon made a excellent start, bursting past Bobby's Girl at the pin at pace, but failed to capitalise on the work, rounding third. However, the racing continued to be close and hectic at every mark, with Valsheda ultimately taking it out over Feng Shui and Affinity again snatching third from Echelon.
Race 3 was virtually a carbon copy of 2 - but closer still, with the places changing frequently in a shiftier breeze near the top-mark and drama on the downwind leg as boats josteld for position at close-quarters. Valsheda made it two in a row, but an incompetent spinnaker drop aboard Echelon allowed Bobby's Girl through to take 4th place.
Race 4 saw Feng Shui return to pole position after a well-timed start and hold the lead through some exceptionally tight racing. Bobby's Girl suffered gear failure and retired and a decision on Affinity to go left on the final run - while the breeze filled from the right - allowed Echelon to secure third place at last.
All in all an excellent day out and many thanks, as always, to Warwick Gair and the race committee - and to eveyone who turned up.
Please find final results here.
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.