© Lissa Reyden | www.LiveSailDie.com
Inclement weather has brought the pre-Christmas series to a close, with 7 of 8 scheduled flights raced. However, the results show that victory for Valsheda II (950) was a virtual certainty, notwithstanding the early bath. Al Gair and crew sailed an impressive series, taking 1st or 2nd place in every flight, bar one (when Al was absent).
Impressive, too, was the fact that they sailed every flight. On the race course, only Feng Shui (1348) seriously threatened their domination, but in this fleet, any mistake - or any absence - is invariably punished. Accordingly, Willzy and crew will have to settle for 3rd place, behind Hayden Whitburn and his crew on Upfront, who also demonstrated consistency in both performance and attendance.
Many thanks as always to everyone who contributed to an excellent series, including (but not limited to) Warwick and Theresa Gair, John and Megan Kensington, Melanie Best and the RNZYS, John Waters, Peter Steele and the crane crew, Craig Greenwood, Hayden Whitburn, Anatole Masfen and Andrew Wills.
We look forward to seeing more crews out on the race course in the New Year, including newcomers Patch Graham, Nick Hazard and Simon Judd.
The post-Christmas series commences on 27th January. Please check the calendar here for other important dates - including the Auckland and National Champs.
All that remains is to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Results for the series are here.
The RNZYS RO did well to get racing away, after competing breezes duked it out for supremacy over a fast-flooding tide. Once a pleasant Westerly had prevailed, the fleet sailed two short sprints - hurtling towards the top mark on the flood, before inching and eking a route back down-tide in a thrilling slow-motion mash-up of chess and all-in wresting. It was gripping stuff, with boats barely crossing the finish line, inches apart.
As ever, the crew of Vashelda (950) impressed with unlikely boat-speed and dazzling boat-handling to triumph in both races and take the flight.
Various gear failure had sadly depleted the fleet with two boats retiring before and two during the flight, but race 2 was nonetheless a humdinger that remained too close to call until the line. Pelle Petersson on Verity (241) looked certain to take 2nd, but inexplicably gybed onto port at the finish to let Tortuga (779) cross ahead (v e r y s l o w l y) - just behind Valsheda (950).
Next week is the last flight before the Christmas break and we hope to get a decent turn-out: The series looks secure for Valsheda (950) and second is likely for Upfront (814), but there is everything still to play for the last podium spot.
Results here (flight) and here (series).
Despite a late start - due to technical issues with the crane - the fine weather allowed for three very close races across a fast ebbing tide.
With the offset mark drifting rapidly down-tide, The Etchells sailed a démodé triangular course (on some legs although not others - just like the old days) and the combination of tide and the shortness and unpredictability of the course made up for some thrilling races.
There was some nostalgia aboard Tortuga (779) for the old Olympic courses (triangle, sausage, triangle) and bowman, Jono Howson, embraced the retrospective with a ten minute countdown and a confounding 'mast abeam' call on the downwind leg.
Meanwhile, aboard Upfront (814) Hayden Whitburn failed to enter into the vintage spirit, with the introduction of some fresh, new sailing talent, who would have taken the flight, but for some bad luck in Race 2.
In the end, however, a befittingly superannuated Johnny Melville took out the flight aboard Bobby's Girl (1058) to preserve the honour of the old guard.
With two flights remaining in the series, there is still everything to play for - and much to enjoy. We hope to see an even larger fleet out next week when the RNZYS will once again host the Etchells.
Results here (flight) and here (series).
A somewhat abbreviated report this week as your correspondent is still creaking a groaning after a stint on the bow of Tortuga (779), an experience which was by turns exhausting and terrifying. This used to be my regular berth, but I must have been more agile and less (financially) interested in the boat back then. Anyway, I salute the fleet's bowmen.
The evening produced three very close races with plenty of drama. Most of that drama was, as ever, at the mark rounding and it has become increasingly evident that it is there that places - and races - are won and lost. The short course format does not produce too many passing opportunities on the legs and so it pays to find clear air after the start and consolidate a position that can be built upon. This was starkly illustrated by Andrew Wills and crew on Feng Shui (1348) in Race 3 who, starting only marginally ahead of Tortuga (779), tacked, cleared their air, and only tacked about 3 more times throughout the entire race, to show the fleet a clean set of heels.
Victory in Flight 5, then, to Feng Shui (1348), from Valsheda (950) and Bobby's Girl (1058). Hayden Whitburn's Upfront (814) remains well in contention for the series, which Valsheda (950) hanging on to pole position from Feng Shui (1348).
Many thanks again to RNZYS and the Race Committee.
PROVISIONAL results from RNZYS are here (flight) and here (series).
After what seemed to have been a week of typhoon conditions (minus the tropical warmth), the weather relented and Auckland put on one of those stunning evenings that make you careless of the foregoing misery.
A dozen Etchells enjoyed some close (at times, perilously close) racing on a longish course, set to take full advantage of the fresh Westerly.
False starts in Race 2 by series leaders Valsheda (950) and Feng Shui (1348) helped to mix things up, as did a strong debut performance from Hugh Rebbeck aboard Tortuga (779), posting a 3rd in Race 1 and nearly repeating the trick in Race 2 before hitting a mark. As Hugh remarked later,
"there is no room for mistakes in that fleet".
Another solid result from Hayden Whitburn on Upfront (814) and an improving series of results from newcomer Lincoln Fraser's Maverick (1077).
Johnny Melville's Bobby's Girl (1058) helped to make up for his late entry to the series with two bullets, but in the end Feng Shui (1348) - welcoming back Andrew Wills from injury and general indolence - took out the flight with Bobby's Girl (1058) second and a resurgent Split Decisions (914) third.
Many thanks and a warm welcome are due to Patch Graham: No sooner had he acquired Foundation (1236) and joined the fleet (hopefully Foundation will be back on the Harbour before Christmas) than he was pressed into service as RO, photographer and cub reporter.
Thanks also to Craig Greenwood for the use of his RIB, to Johnny Montgomery and to all who bore a hand to make this happen. Next week the RNZYS will provide race management, but everyone's help is appreciated for the two remaining fleet-managed flights before Christmas (see the calendar for details).
The remainder of the season is shaping up nicely with 12 boats alreay in play and at least 2 more warming up in the changing sheds...
Results are here (flight) and here (series).
© Lissa Reyden | www.LiveSailDie.com
Unbowed by an ominous forecast, a hardy fleet of nine Etchells enjoyed eclectic conditions and close competition in flight 3 of the Tuesday Night Series.
While the heavy winds held off until all were safely installed at the Members Bar at RNZYS, a few squalls and not a few shifts kept everybody on their toes for the three (or, more accurately, 2.5 races), managed with aplomb by the Megan Kensington and the Squadron team.
Race 1 saw the larger part of the fleet head off out of the blocks toward the North Shore, to some advantage, before two shifts leveled the field and brought the fleet close together at the top mark. A distinct bend in the breeze downhill favoured early-gybers and on lap 2 the whole fleet seemed to pick its way far more gingerly around the course - Valsheda (950) ultimately taking first place over Affinity (1059) and Split Decisions (914).
Race 2 was a similar affair, but errors at both the top and bottom marks reshuffled the order and Hayden Whitburn's Upfront (814) romped home first over Valsheda (950) and Bobby's Girl (1058), on her season debut.
But of course the highlight of everyone's evening was Race 3 in which your correspondent, ably assisted by Hugh Rebbeck and new recruit Jono Howson (last seen on the bow of an Etchells circa 1987), secured an historic victory through a combination of tactical brilliance, faultless seamanship and sheer, dumb luck (not necessarily in that order). Normal service will doubtless resume next week when your fleet captain shall, once again, lead from the rear...
Many thanks to the RNZYS for their assistance and hospitality.
Please do contact me if you wish to be added to the 'Available Crew' list here.
Crew T Shirts are also available here - all proceeds to the Auckland Fleet.
Feng Shui (1248) celebrated the return of Andrew Wills with two wins on a light, flat course to take second place overall in the Series after two flights.
Both Feng Shui (1248) and Valsheda II (950) showed an extra turn of speed through excellent set-up, sail-trim and boat-handling. However, the results show that remaining fleet is not too far behind and the series should remain close.
Results here (flight) and here (series).
A reminder that the Etchells Invitational is on 4th November. This is an opportunity for anyone interested in Etchells sailing to get aboard and go racing.
Be sure to come along on the night - and please extend this invitation to anyone you know who might be interested - all are welcome.
long time no sea
The season opened with perfect conditions for the fleet of 7 early-birds, including newcomer Maverick (1077) and a welcome smattering of new faces throughout.
Pelle Petersson, who has recently acquired Verity (241) took to the sharp end of Tortuga (779) to learn the knitting - but hopes to take the con on his own boat before too long.
The opening start was mercifully free of unwanted drama, despite some familiar crowding at the boat end. A turning tide kept things interesting and even on the (necessarily) short course and there was little to separate the fleet at the top mark.
Proving that it pays to read the NOR, the majority of the fleet then turned confidently to the blue bottom mark and took the lead.
There remains some question as to who did and who did not sail the correct course (and the results may need to be amended), but suffice it to say that your correspondent is feeling relatively smug about this one.
An efficient RNZYS managed to get off three races in quick succession before the light failed, but it was evident from smiling faces on the dock and at the bar that all were eager for more of the same. As Al Gair put it "it's been a long time between drinks".
Many thanks to Patch Graham for some excellent photos, a selection of which are posted below.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
A cracking weekend of fine weather and close, competitive racing closed the curtain on a great summer of sailing. On day 1 the first four races had four different winners, including Lindsay Kennedy's Quantum (1314) - making a welcome return to the fleet after a long absence - class stalwart Phil Pryde's Split Decision (914) - who also took a bullet in Race 8 - and master helmsman Gavin Gerrard.
On the whole the racing was tight and closely fought, with seconds separating first and last on the 1-mile course. Nonetheless, Feng Shui (1348) soon established an insurmountable lead, fully 15 points clear of 2nd place after 8 races.
Congratulations to Andrew Wills, Anatole Masfen and Matt Kelway on an immaculately raced series. Congratulations too to all competitors in this truly Corinthian competition.
Many congratulations also to rookie Hayden Whitburn and Upfront (814). Hayden's place on the podium is all the the more remarkable for his having missed two races due to rig failure.
Special thanks go to Megan Kensington and the RNZYS race committee who ran an exemplary series in sometimes trying conditions.
Particular thanks also to the Kensingtons and Craig Greenwood for the generous contribution of tow boats. Finally, thanks to North Sails for furnishing the prizes and to North Sails and Coast New Zealand (I declare an interest) for sponsoring drinks after both days' racing.
Johnny Melville (Bobby's Girl) has complained - long and often - that he does not get to do enough Etchells racing. Frustrated by the unbending paucity of time, Johnny has evidently alighted upon the novel solution of cloning himself. In last night's race, '1058' seemed to be all over the race course, until it became apparent that there were three or four '1058' clones. And the trend is catching on: '1348' also doubled-down.
I sympathise with Johnny (and his various clones), but my deeper empathy is reserved for the Race Committee, whose results were, necessarily, heavily glossed with explanatory notes.
Whilst the munificence of Johnny and Anatole are to be applauded, I would ask their beneficiaries to limit the bounds of their admirable frugality and splash out on some new numbers...
To the extent that it was possible to discern which boats were actually participating, the racing was close and exciting - often a little too close and too exciting. Your correspondent was so taken up in the confusion of the action that he started to hallucinate - imagining at one point that Split Decision (914) was actually doing its turns...
The patchy conditions were fraught with gusts and treacherous holes - particularly at the top mark, where a strong ebbing tide caught out more than a few boats.
Newcomer Hayden Whitford on Upfront (814) has proved to be a strong competitor this season, while Affinity (1059) sailed an intelligent flight despite a couple of marginal starts to finish 2nd overall. Feng Shui (1348), however, won the day and remains at the top of the leader board - only two points clear of Valsheda II (950) - with 5 flights to go.
results here (series) and here (flights).
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.