The first love of every Etchells sailor should be the sea (certain members of your correspondent's crew would do well to note this) and so it was unsurprising to see 10 ardent crews take to water on Valentine's Day in conditions that might have seemed unpromising to the unsmitten.
It was a great pleasure to welcome newcomers, Conrad Robertson and crew aboard a wonderfully-restored Revenge (240) and the overcast afternoon offered a deceptively placid welcome to the debutantes, with barely more than 6 knots of breeze. But soon enough, the fickle southerly punished the unwary (and unaware) with some tricky shifts and holes.
The fleet also played host to Olympic silver-medallist Alexandra Maloney, aboard Magrette (1240) and welcomed Simon Cook to the helm of Feng Shui (1348) in Willzy's absence..
The race committee sent off three long races on the short course and it was a late finish in the diminishing breeze, but having opted to sail on Valentine's Day, one may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. In each race, the beat proved a real tester, the offset leg (straight into the flooding tide) stretched the fleet and the downwind legs posed many questions. It was by turns, immensely enjoyable and maddeningly frustrating.
Simon Cook on Feng Shui (1348) posted a convincing 2nd and 1st and, but for an OCS in race 2, might have stolen the flight. But it was Affinity (1059) who ground out the win after a couple of false steps and false starts, from which she recovered well. Echelon took second place - again recovering well from a a disappointing race 1 to take a bullet and 2nd in the races 2 and 3. Alliance (950) placed third, showing real speed and finesse in the last two races.
Next week the Auckland Champs will be held on Monday and Tuesday nights, with a prizegiving at the Squadron on Tuesday, where drinks and nibbles will be ready and waiting for us.
Results and TRACKING here (flight) and here (series)
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.