In all-too-typical Auckland conditions that ran through a repertoire of variations from light and shifty to wet and wild, Valsheda II (1295) somehow maintained a close harmony, producing a master-class in yacht-racing to take the National Championships.
However, their dominant performance on paper (with no fewer than 5 bullets) belies the closeness of the fleet racing, in which no single crew seemed to have things their own way. 6 boats achieved podium finishes over the two day regatta, with the order changing at almost every mark.
Day one was charaterised by light to moderate winds and some colossal shifts. The trying conditions served to separate the sheep from the goats and the fleet's more agricultural practitioners were mercilessly punished. The race committee worked heroically to keep pace, but after 3 races and a postponement, in which the wind visited all point of the compass, a halt was called.
Day two dawned wet and windless, but quickly cleared to near-perfect conditions for four long races. Your correspondent suffered an early end to his campaign with a main halyard breakage before the first start, but witnessed and relished the action from the sidelines. Valsheda II consolidated a commanding lead with three more wins, while Affinity played bridesmaid with three 2nd-places (after a 6th, which they would drop). Bobby's Girl who were in 2nd place overnight, failed to maintain their consistency and Maverick's 1, 2, 3 (and a solid 5) were enough to secure 2nd place from Affinity.
Congratulations to all competitors in an awesome regatta and many thanks to the race committee and all of the many volunteers, sponsors and supporters who contributed to the event.
Results are here
This report is courtesy of Hayden Whitburn (your usual correspondence having been stranded on the beach for Flight 8).
In Race 1 Captain Pete (716) charged out of the blocks from the Committee boat end and had a very solid lead by the top mark in some very shifty conditions, leaving everyone else to play catch up. In winds ranging from 10 - 20 knots, Captain Pete (716) took 1st place, followed by Feng Shui (1348) and Affinity (1059).
In Race 2, Johnny Melvile in Bobby's Girl (1058) was unstoppable up the first beat with his crack crew of Stu Malloy and a fellow crew-member from Abu Dhabi filling in. They lead around the top mark, followed by Upfront (814) , Affinity (1059) and Feng Shui (1348).
Bobby's Girl (1058) had an issue at the bottom mark and Upfront (814) took the lead, but didn't cover up the beat and got nailed by a shift which Bobby's Girl read beautifully and took the win from Feng Shui (1348) and Affinity (1059).
Race 3 was a one lap affair, as the breeze was dying out and getting dark quickly. It was a lovely sight with the harbour bridge lit up green for St Patrick's Day...
It was all on at the start with a big log jam at the committee boat end, forcing a few boats to tack off early to clear some air which new comer to the class Hugh Rebbeck on Echelon (1379) mastered superbly and controlled the right, but Feng Shui (1348) managed to get a great shift from the left with Bobby’s Girl (1058) closing the gap it was all on, with all boats finishing very close - showing how great the racing really is.
In the end it was Feng Shui (1348) followed by newcomers Echelon (1379) and Bobby’s Girl (1058).
Results are here (flight) and here (series).
A squally, petulant southerly took both distinguished guests and locals by surprise, precipitating some hasty rig adjustments and not a few gear failures, which saw the initial fleet of 14 whittled down to 11 by the final start.
The RNZYS race committee was forced to set a short, cross-harbour course on the flooding tide, but, in spite of the tricky current and a general recall, the RO managed 3 races before the fleet headed home in the gloaming.
The fleet played host to former World Champions, Andy Beadsworth and Simon 'Stir' Fry aboard John Kensington's Unfinished Business (1184) - Pelle Petersson on Vilda Hilda (906) officiating with a hearty, welcoming barge off the first start. The visitors weathered several more idiomatic rule interpretations and esoteric local customs before finding their usual form with a 2nd place in Race 3 and posting a credible 5th overall, behind Affinity (1059).
Rob Salthouse - keeping Hayden Whitburn's spot aboard Upfront (814) warm during the latter's European sojourn - established beyond reasonable doubt that last week's winning form was no fluke, taking 1st overall from Feng Shui (1348) and Valsheda (950).
With just over a fortnight until the Nationals, now is the time to fix any breakages and to prepare and equip boat and crew. There is a directory of service providers on the website here - and your correspondent is also happy to assist with finding good, competent and experienced crew (albeit, a little despondent at losing them all to other boats...). Just email me if you require assistance: email@example.com.
Results are here (flight) and here (series).
Sweet Baby Jesus, the racing is getting close out there. The margins are getting slimmer with each successive week and it is a credit to the series leaders that they are hanging on on to podium berths so tenaciously, when the slightest error can be so brutally punished by a close-following fleet.
Conditions were perfect for Flight 6 and ROs Warwick and Theresa Gair set an excellent course across the breadth of the harbour.
The committee saw off 3 races, plus the first general recall of the season, for which your correspondent was pathetically grateful, having placed all of his eggs in a boat-end start, that was about to turn to messy, eggy custard.
Guest rock-star helm, Rob Salthouse on Upfront (814) fairly hurtled out of the first start and made startling progress to the first mark, which can only be attributable to beginner's luck.
Valsheda (950) and Affinity (1059) also took good starts and worked up the left side of the course to round in touch and ultimately take 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Aboard Feng Shui (1348), guest rock-star bow, Simon 'Stirfry' Fry must have had trouble with Matt 'G Unit' Kelway's esoteric knitting as Willzy's crew posted an uncharacteristic 8th, behind Tortuga (779) and her rock-starlette bow, Louisa.
However, knots unraveled, Feng Shui (1348) came back strongly to take 1st and 2nd in the next two races, keeping Upfront (814) out in third place.
On the day, a bullet and 2 thirds was enough for Rob Salthouse and crew on Upfront (814) to take out first place. But a late, gracious retirement (possibly unprecedented in this fleet) by Auckland Champion, Lincoln Fraser and Maverick (1077), following a tricky windward-mark call, has put Valsheda (950) ahead - and leaves all to play for when Salty returns next week.
Results are here (flight) and here (series)
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.