16 Etchells and more than 50 sailors took to the Waitemata in proving conditions for the annual Etchells Invitational, before returning to the dock for some post-match analysis and some well-earned beers.
With around 15 knots of breeze against tide, the pre-race warm-up was a little lumpy and the spanners were out on most boats for some last-minute re-tuning, before the slack water smoothed out the race course for race 1.
A general recall allowed the guest-helms to calibrate their approach and all were well clear for the next start. Indeed a significant bow in the middle of the long line allowed Stu Robinson aboard Tortuga (779) to reach over the fleet into pole position, a high risk strategy that ultimately proved too ambitious (Tortuga was OCS).
The fleet split evenly left/right for race 1, but neither corner was obviously advantaged and mark 1 was heavily congested after the work. Heading downhill, the left seemed to see more breeze and Chris Steele aboard Echelon (1083) took the bullet from Charles Maud's Windward (1114) and Feng Shui (1348).
In race 2, Echelon (1083) stuck to her winning formula, but Rohan Cooke aboard Feng Shui (1348) made a better rounding at mark 1 to take and hold the lead from Echelon (1083) and Windward (1114). Murray Gilbert aboard Affinity (1059) recovered from a sub-par race 1 to narrowly avoid the podium and take 4th from an also much-improved Kevin Beaumont on Foundation (1236).
The third and final race played out in similar fashion, with Echelon (1083) and Feng Shui (1348) again heading to the left corner and rounding well ahead of the following fleet to duke it out for first. Following Feng Shui to the boat-end of the line, Echelon may or may not have been pipped at the line (see the tracking here), but it seems unlikely that she was 8th overall (an eclectic mix of sail numbers may have confused the committee). Nonetheless, Chris Steele secured a strong podium finish overall.
Congratulations to all who participated and kept the large fleet incredibly tight (around 60 seconds separated first and last finishers).
Many thanks are owed to Andrew Wills of North Sails for organising the Invitational and bringing out so many talented sailors. Thanks also to the RIB team (who distributed cold drinks to the fleet at sea), to Richard Gladwell from sail-world.com and to the RNZYS race officers.
If you have enjoyed the Invitational and would like to join the fleet, please do not hesitate to contact Alex Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrew Wills (email@example.com)
Results and tracking are here
Images by kind permission of Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com
An absolute cracker of a day to welcome the fleet back to the Waitemata after a long spell of indifferent weather. Having clocked a significant port line bias at the start of the ladies' race, most of the fleet crowded the pin for the start of race 1, leaving four boats, including Feng Shui (1348), Affinity (1059) and Upfront (814) to contest the middle and round mark 1 clear ahead (tracking here).
Your correspondent, again unable to find any sailing talent in New Zealand, welcomed Alison Kent (Wisconsin, USA) aboard Tortuga (779), who called two great races, which a more able skipper might have parlayed into stronger results.
Feng Shui (1348) maintained her lead throughout to take the race from Affinity (1059) and Upfront (814).
The breeze dropped marginally for race 2, which promised to be a re-run of the first race, but for the intervention of a runaway mark (see tracking here), which compressed the fleet into the right hand corner and allowed Upfront (814) to wrest the lead from Feng Shui (1348).
A reminder that the Invitational is next week. All regular owners and their crew are strongly encouraged to take part and to welcome potential new owners and crew to the fleet. We hope to get 16 boats out on the night - and racing will be followed by refreshments on the dock.
Willzy has been in touch with most of the owners, but if you have any questions or if you wish to add anyone to the list, please contact Willzy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tracking is more fun if you turn your tracker ON. Having trouble? See me (Alex Webster) before racing and I will be happy to help.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
It was tough day at the office for some (including your correspondent) as variable conditions tested the fleet in a well-attended 3rd flight.
Hayden Whitburn on Upfront (814) continued a rock-steady performance to rise once again to the top of the leader board, with Feng Shui (1348) a credible second (having missed flight 1) and Magrette (1240) an impressive 3rd overall.
On the night, the ability to change gears proved definitive, with a fresh northerly dropping out just prior to the third race to flummox the fleet.
It was good to witness a far better understanding of the rules at mark-roundings - and to see circles taken by those infringing (ncluding your correspondent, again...).
Don't forget to bring - and switch on - your tracker!
Results are here (flight and tracking) and here (series).
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.