With only 3 flights remaining until the COAST NEW ZEALAND ETCHELLS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, your correspondent had asked the RNZYS to set some longer courses (as conditions allow), a decision which two long beats against the ebbing spring tide at the very back of the fleet allowed him ample time to regret.
Notwithstanding the tide, the conditions were tricky - an early 15 knot breeze fading to well under 10 knots as the evening progressed. In Race 1, the fleet split left and right to seek out slack water for the long beat. Seduced by a 15 degree shift, your correspondent tacked back into the main channel only to see his advantage evaporate as he was conveyed at speed back towards the start line.
On the first lap, the right appeared to have paid off - albeit only marginally so - with Magrette (1240) bouncing off the far right corner to round in first place. In lap 2, the majority followed Magrette's lead, but it was Feng Shui (1348), working the Westhaven breakwater, that led around the top mark and hung on to take 1st place from Affinity (1059) and Magrette. Check out the gripping replay on TRACKING here.
The breeze had dropped considerably for Race 2 and the best crews will have changed sails and settings. Aboard Tortuga (779) there was much soul-searching but insufficient action and at the warning signal the boat was still set up for 15 knots plus. However, the the crew were quite clear on the game plan - start right at the boat and go right. This turned out to be the correct decision and, but for the vastly superior boat speed of a correctly tuned and dressed Feng Shiu, Tortuga might have held her own at the front.
In the event, it was Affinity who stole a march on the entire fleet with a strong start and good pace and height to round the top mark well ahead. The down-tide runs provided some passing opportunities, but Affinity held on to 1st place, Feng Shui overhauled Tortuga to place second and your correspondent was content with 3rd, ahead of a close-following Captain Pete.
TRACKING and results here (flight) and here (series)
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.