With 15-20 knots of south-westerly breeze set against the flooding tide, the Waitemata served up conditions not seen by this fleet for some time. It was gripping stuff and hugely exciting, particularly downwind on some surfable waves, but lack of recent experience in these conditions showed in the high tally of broken gear and broken rules.
The starts and mark-roundings, always hectic, were positively hair-raising in a fleet of 12 boats on a very short course. This week's TRACKING reveals just how close the racing remained throughout.
Conversely, the tracking also exposes some close calls on port/starboard encounters and some novel interpretations of the rules concerning rights and obligations at marks. With the COAST NEW ZALAND ETCHELLS NATIONAL CHAMPS only 3 weeks away, it may be time to consider some basic strategies (get a good start, sail fast, stay out of trouble) and perhaps another brush-up on the rules. Certain boats were lucky to have been un-tracked this week...
Lincoln Fraser's report on the NSW State Champs last week highlighted the importance of clearing your air quickly and finding a lane. On a short course, it is even more important to find that lane right off the start or very shortly thereafter, preferably on the first tack. Thereafter, it frequently pays to duck rather than lee-bow a crossing starboard-tacker to stay on track and up to speed. In lumpy conditions it is also very hard to make a lee-bow tack stick. In any event, a port-tacker does need to make this call and make it early.
Your correspondent retired from race 1 with a broken spinanker halyard - which was quickly and expertly retrieved by Ellie Aldridge in time to for the start of race 2, in which the jib halyard cleat also broke. Tortuga (779) did redeem herself in race 3, however, with two refreshingly uneventful laps (not counting a nail-biting slam dunk on Magrette (1240) - for which apologies) to finish 4th.
Following another observation from Lincoln Fraser's report, we took our biggest gains by hiking hard in the puffs and maintaining speed through the waves - simple stuff but enormously important in this game of inches.
Irish Crystal (809) returned to the fleet and blew out the cobwebs with a somewhat punchy performance in these fresh conditions taking a 5, 6 before retiring for an early bath.
Feng Shui (1348) sailed another intelligent flight (it is well worth following her three races on tracking) to take out 1st place overall from Affinity (1059) - now on something of a roll - and Alliance (1295).
Thanks as usual to the RNZYS Race Committee.
Results and TRACKING are here (flight) and here (series)
Coast New Zealand Etchells National Champs - Preview
It seems likely that we will have 14 entries for the Coast New Zealand Etchells National Champs in just over 3 weeks' time. All skippers / owners are asked to register and pay here by 25th March - and the sooner the better so that we can firm up numbers for the various logistical arrangements outlined here.
Many of you will already be following the tracking for the Post-Christmas Series - and for the Coast New Zealand Nationals we will have tracking of all boats and all marks via dedicated on-board trackers - together with a live wind feed.
The Race Committee and any spectators (whether afloat or ashore) will be able to track the racing live online on any suitable device (a tablet or computer).
In order to avoid the usual bun-fight at the skippers' briefing on Friday 1st April, we have scheduled a weigh-in for Tuesday 29th March - on the dock prior to the regular flight. Please be ready to weigh in at that time - rest assured there will be some privacy for those very close to the mark!). Anyone unable to weigh-in at that time will be able to weigh-in on Friday 1st April from 1730 at RNZYS.
It is intended that all boats will overnight at Orakei Marina and that a ferry - with on-board refreshment courtesy of Mount Gay Rum - will bring competitors back to Z Pier after racing on Saturday. However, it is not unlikely that we will need tugs on Saturday morning and/or Sunday night. If your boat is available, please do let us know and please do make the necessary arrangements for crew etc.
This event is no minor undertaking and we greatly appreciate your support. If you need any assistance in order to get you to the start line, please do not hesitate to contact Alex Webster or to ask for the assistance of the fleet. The more the merrier!
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.