Conditions were perfect for the 2015 Etchells Invitational with a 12 knot westerly breeze, sunshine and an enthusiastic crowd, comprising some new and some familiar faces.
ROs Warwick and Theresa Gair aboard Allan Fraser's shiny new RIB (for which many thanks) got away 4 single-lap, quick fire races.
Although no single boat dominated, the top three places of night went to guest helms, with Stefan Goldwater aboard Lincoln Faser's Valsheda (950) taking first place. Paul Murray and Carl Evans shared second place aboard Hayden Whitburn's Upfront (814) and Ed Crooke took third place aboard Hugh Rebbeck's Echelon (1083). Fleet newcomer, Alistair Campbell took 4th and the incumbents (led by Pelle Petersen aboard Vilda Hilda (906)) will need to lift their game, or else may wish to suggest that they were sand-bagging as part of the overall marketing strategy...
Aboard Tortuga (779) guest-helm, Ellie Aldridge, demonstrated both yachting prowess and saintly patience for her crew (viz. your correspondent and his part-time middle-man, Dom Lundon), who struggled with a Gordian tangle of knitting before settling into a study in ineptitude. While posting a 4th place in race 3, Ellie deserved much better overall.
Simon Craddock aboard Andrew Fraser's Spitfire (1077) remained in touch with the incumbents and was unlucky to finish 9th overall on the count-back.
As the light faded on the race-course, a cheerful fleet returned to Z Pier for a dock-side beer post-game analysis. As a fleet, we sincerely hope that our guests will return - perhaps as new owners...
Many thanks again to our Race Officers, Warwick and Thereesa Gair and to Allan Fraser for kindly donating his RIB and time. Thanks also to Richard Gladwell and sail-world.com for coverage and action photography.
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.