A tremendous start to the season in fickle conditions felt like high-stakes poker, with displays of calculated ambition, misjudged caution and all-in kahunas at each shuffle of the deck.
The results (scrawled, fittingly, on a bar napkin) eloquently describe how the chips changed hands often over the three races (although familiar high-rollers ultimately remained in the money).
Race one started in a modest, but building breeze which spread the fleet of ten starters across a broad front. After a close start, the first mark was surprisingly processional (with your correspondent thrillingly, but fleetingly sneaking around in third), but the deck was radically reshuffled on the first downwind leg as a dying, shifting breeze compressed the fleet.
After a ding-dong at the leeward mark, the second work was effectively a do-over which saw the fleet re-consolidate through the middle of the course in the flooding tide. However, the Stolen Rum kite on Feng Shui popped while most were some distance from the lay-line, followed by 914 and 1379.
Race two was a different kettle of worms, with boats crowding the boat on a rather short line. Two boats were inevitably pushed over early, while the fleet persisted on starboard with the left looking good (at least from the right from where your correspondent had a depressingly clear view). The spring tide and clocking wind spread and compressed the fleet around two laps, in which Upfront ultimately triumphed.
Race three was a punchy (but inspired) call in the dying breeze and fading light and your correspondent was regretting his night-vision goggles on the final low speed circuit. At the top mark 1240's skipper was relying on 'the Force' to pick his way through the tail of the fleet in the gloaming and encountered 1114 in a version of 'rounding by braille'. Evidently, the near total darkness prevented a definitive ruling on whether 1240 had completed its tack prior to a load-speed collision....
Upfront was on a roll, however and, eyes on the ‘first to the bar’ prize, held out a surging Echelon to win the final hand.
Many thanks to Warwick Gair and his volunteers aboard the committee boat.
Please may I ask each of you to update your profile on the mailing list (you will find a link at the bottom of every email) so that I can ensure that you are getting that right emails and that our crew list is up to date.
You will note that the results are missing names - please supply missing data if you have it.
Thanks also to THREE new recruits who joined your correspondent tonight aboard 1240 and did an excellent job: Matthew Hix, Gareth Rowan and Richard Smith.
There are plenty of willing crew on the mailing list – many with heaps of experience – so please contact me if you need crew.
The Tuesday Night Series begins in 3 weeks today. Are you ready? Probably not, but do not despair (yet) because we are full of good advice and it's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it:
A good place to start. If you don't have one, then find one to buy here - there is something for everyone in this selection and it would be churlish to leave them on the hard-standing a moment longer.
Remember that 'to-do' list you had at the end of last season? Where is it? You have no idea. Best pop down to the boat mid-week and remind yourself which parts are missing or need fixing before the first race. Last season we spend the whole of the first evening dropping the rig to retrieve a lost halyard which had been there for 7 months. How we laughed.
If you had planned to get these fixed at the end of last season, it may not be too late to start now. If they are at the loft awaiting your unpaid account, you are off to a reasonable start. If they are sitting in the same wet, squalid heap in which you left them in April, now may be the time to splash out on the go-faster wardrobe you have long promised yourself. Do it. Willzy has young mouths to feed these days.
If your crew is lying in the same wet, squalid heap in which you left them at the end of last season I hesitate to commend their continued service - but in all events, help is at hand, because this season we will be running an Etchells crew-match-making service as between skippers and crew. Don't get too excited, most of you will need to generate significantly enhanced pulling-power to make an actual match, but this service may help you to find able crew of a Tuesday night. Here is how it works:
On FRIDAY NIGHT I'll circulate an email which will include a reminder to EMAIL ME if you are either (a) a skipper in need of crew or (b) crew in need of a berth. I will collate responses and circulate the results to all relevant parties on MONDAY MORNING.
If you are on this mailing list (and you really should be) there is nothing more to do. If you know someone else who ought to be on this list, then please get them aboard, pronto.
I would also urge you to 'like' us on Facebook - we are insecure and crave validation - but more importantly, this is a good way to stay current with news and forthcoming events.
Your Race Committee
We are indebted, once again, to the generosity of our volunteer race committee and to the Kensingtons and Masfens for the loan of boats. I am sure that no one takes this munificence for granted and, having seen quotes from the RNZYS for providing the same services, I can attest to the significant monetary quantum of their respective contributions.
Wait, There's More
This season, skippers and crew will find FREE BEER (if there are 2 sweeter words in the English language, I know not what they are) aboard every participating boat, courtesy of sponsor Coast New Zealand (in which I must declare an interest). Teetotalers are required to carry these, or refreshments of equal weight and fizzyness.
Results and race reports will be posted on this website and Sail World.
If you wish to contribute reportage, photographs (please) and/or sponsorship (in cash or kind) then please do not hide your lights under a bushel, the more the merrier.
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.