Fine weather and breezes up and down the range tested a very close fleet for the 2016 Auckland Championships, sailed over two nights this week on the Waitemata. Andrew Wills' game-plan aboard Feng Shui (1348) was to 'stay out of trouble' and the results might suggest that we was largely untroubled by the competition, posting a clean sweep of 5 bullets to take the Auckland Perpetual Trophy.
In reality, Feng Shui had to work hard for the win: the racing was exceptionally close on every leg and at every mark and on a number of occasions, Feng Shui had to claw her way to the front from mid-fleet.
Early breakages sadly reduced numbers down to 10 competitors, but on the short course off Westhaven the mark-roundings were crowded - albeit largely orderly. It was very encouraging to see fair play throughout, with boats doing their turns when required.
Phil Pryde's Split Decisions (914) made a welcome return to take second place overall with 4 top-three finishes, while defending Auckland Champion, Lincoln Fraser had to be content with third place.
You can re-live the triumphs and disasters via TRACKING here.
Many thanks to the RNZYS Race Committee for an excellent series - and for their perseverance on Tuesday evening when a dragging anchor delayed proceedings.
Results are here
Another cracking flight in some testing conditions ultimately saw Alliance (1295) prevail with a convincing 1,2 over Feng Shui (1348) and Upfront (814). The rest were very close behind, but will need to raise their game to stay in touch on the leader board in a fleet where every foot counts.
Checking the replay via tracking might help to improve performance - so it would help if everyone remembered to turn their tracker on!
Auckland Champs - 22 / 23 February
The Auckland champs will be held over Monday and Tuesday nights next week. 3 races are scheduled for each night - if we want long races (and we do) all boats need to be prepared to turn around quickly. After 6 races, there will be one discard.
De-brief at Swashies on Monday, but please note that the prize-giving on Tuesday night will be at the Squadron.
The Etchells gave the Westhaven dragon boats a run for their money on a long paddle out to the race course - until the expected southerly filled in to push the tail-enders out into the flooding tide. This new breeze filled and established itself quickly, allowing the Squadron race committee - ably led by Megan Kensington - to get away three short, but action-packed races for the Etchells and the ladies' fleets.
Beginners luck prevailed again with 'newbie' Craig Greenwood celebrating his return to the fold with a bullet in race 1 aboard Affinity (1059). Your correspondent was hot on his tail until the last mark, but was rolled by Willzy et al on Feng Shui (1348) - finishing strongly (as ever) after an earlier error (circles duly noted).
Reality also bit Magrette (1240) after their stunning debut in Flight 1, but do not expect this rock-star crew to stay down for long.
With Hugh Rebbeck absent, the ring-in crew aboard Echelon (1083) sailed an intelligent flight, culminating in a bullet in the very-tricky race 3 to take out 1st place overall from Affinity and Feng Shui.
This week's racing featured TRACKING and you can relive the action for all three races here. Warning - this is highly addictive. Please note also that not all boats were tracked - it would be great to get everyone on board next week (and certainly for the Auckland Champs in two weeks' time).
Check out the guts and never-say-die determination of Lincoln Fraser's Alliance (1295) in race 3 here - particularly the final run - (just don't look at who they rolled...
Many thanks as always to the ROs for an excellent and highly enjoyable flight
Results here (flight) and here (series).
Newcomers Russell Benshaw and crew aboard Magrette (1240) set the cat amongst the pigeons with a convincing bullet in race 1 of the season's opening flight.
Shifty conditions on an sweltering evening saw the wind clock through all points of the compass as the fleet limbered up, until a merciful southerly prevailed and allowed the race committee to set a relatively short course across the ebbing tide.
A pronounced pin-bias in race 1 was offset be the strong left-to-right tide and the right hand side paid off for those in phase. As ever, the shifts under the tank farm were perilous - particularly to those caught down-tide and in a hole.
In addition to Magrette's firm statement of intent, Feng Shui (1348), Upfront (814) and Lincoln Fraser's Alliance (1295) each posted strong performances on a tricky night and there was a three-way tie on points in fourth place (resolved on count-back). All in all a very satisfying and tantalizing start to the season. In the words of Dean Barker, if you didn't enjoy that, you need to find another sport...
From next week, we hope to be able to offer live race tracking (and of course replays to your hearts' content). Instructions for signing up to this initiative have been sent to all oweners and we will follow up later in the week.
Live action and replays will be available via the website, with a link beside each (recorded) race on the website calendar.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.