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)
In an increasingly tumultuous summer, the last few weeks may have felt like years - certainly long enough for many, your correspondent included, to have forgotten how to yot. Despite this general air of amnesia, an eager fleet took to the Waitemata in dazzling summer conditions like fledgling swans - or ugly ducklings in some cases - making a meal of two starts and multiple mark-roundings, but remaining buoyant and, mercifully, afloat.
Staying aloof of the melee and out of trouble, Feng Shui (1348) posted two bullets, while Magrette (1240) and Affinity (1059) displayed consistency and persistence to finish 2nd and 3rd overall, respectively.
Next week, the fleet welcomes Conrad Robertson in the newly-restored Revenge (240). The following week, the Auckland Champs will again be held over two evenings - Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st.
Results and Tracking here (flight) and here (series).
NB As at 9:00 AM on 08/02/2017 the results are PROVISIONAL
16 Etchells and more than 50 sailors took to the Waitemata in proving conditions for the annual Etchells Invitational, before returning to the dock for some post-match analysis and some well-earned beers.
With around 15 knots of breeze against tide, the pre-race warm-up was a little lumpy and the spanners were out on most boats for some last-minute re-tuning, before the slack water smoothed out the race course for race 1.
A general recall allowed the guest-helms to calibrate their approach and all were well clear for the next start. Indeed a significant bow in the middle of the long line allowed Stu Robinson aboard Tortuga (779) to reach over the fleet into pole position, a high risk strategy that ultimately proved too ambitious (Tortuga was OCS).
The fleet split evenly left/right for race 1, but neither corner was obviously advantaged and mark 1 was heavily congested after the work. Heading downhill, the left seemed to see more breeze and Chris Steele aboard Echelon (1083) took the bullet from Charles Maud's Windward (1114) and Feng Shui (1348).
In race 2, Echelon (1083) stuck to her winning formula, but Rohan Cooke aboard Feng Shui (1348) made a better rounding at mark 1 to take and hold the lead from Echelon (1083) and Windward (1114). Murray Gilbert aboard Affinity (1059) recovered from a sub-par race 1 to narrowly avoid the podium and take 4th from an also much-improved Kevin Beaumont on Foundation (1236).
The third and final race played out in similar fashion, with Echelon (1083) and Feng Shui (1348) again heading to the left corner and rounding well ahead of the following fleet to duke it out for first. Following Feng Shui to the boat-end of the line, Echelon may or may not have been pipped at the line (see the tracking here), but it seems unlikely that she was 8th overall (an eclectic mix of sail numbers may have confused the committee). Nonetheless, Chris Steele secured a strong podium finish overall.
Congratulations to all who participated and kept the large fleet incredibly tight (around 60 seconds separated first and last finishers).
Many thanks are owed to Andrew Wills of North Sails for organising the Invitational and bringing out so many talented sailors. Thanks also to the RIB team (who distributed cold drinks to the fleet at sea), to Richard Gladwell from sail-world.com and to the RNZYS race officers.
If you have enjoyed the Invitational and would like to join the fleet, please do not hesitate to contact Alex Webster (email@example.com) or Andrew Wills (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Results and tracking are here
Images by kind permission of Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com
An absolute cracker of a day to welcome the fleet back to the Waitemata after a long spell of indifferent weather. Having clocked a significant port line bias at the start of the ladies' race, most of the fleet crowded the pin for the start of race 1, leaving four boats, including Feng Shui (1348), Affinity (1059) and Upfront (814) to contest the middle and round mark 1 clear ahead (tracking here).
Your correspondent, again unable to find any sailing talent in New Zealand, welcomed Alison Kent (Wisconsin, USA) aboard Tortuga (779), who called two great races, which a more able skipper might have parlayed into stronger results.
Feng Shui (1348) maintained her lead throughout to take the race from Affinity (1059) and Upfront (814).
The breeze dropped marginally for race 2, which promised to be a re-run of the first race, but for the intervention of a runaway mark (see tracking here), which compressed the fleet into the right hand corner and allowed Upfront (814) to wrest the lead from Feng Shui (1348).
A reminder that the Invitational is next week. All regular owners and their crew are strongly encouraged to take part and to welcome potential new owners and crew to the fleet. We hope to get 16 boats out on the night - and racing will be followed by refreshments on the dock.
Willzy has been in touch with most of the owners, but if you have any questions or if you wish to add anyone to the list, please contact Willzy (email@example.com)
Tracking is more fun if you turn your tracker ON. Having trouble? See me (Alex Webster) before racing and I will be happy to help.
Results here (flight) and here (series)
It was tough day at the office for some (including your correspondent) as variable conditions tested the fleet in a well-attended 3rd flight.
Hayden Whitburn on Upfront (814) continued a rock-steady performance to rise once again to the top of the leader board, with Feng Shui (1348) a credible second (having missed flight 1) and Magrette (1240) an impressive 3rd overall.
On the night, the ability to change gears proved definitive, with a fresh northerly dropping out just prior to the third race to flummox the fleet.
It was good to witness a far better understanding of the rules at mark-roundings - and to see circles taken by those infringing (ncluding your correspondent, again...).
Don't forget to bring - and switch on - your tracker!
Results are here (flight and tracking) and here (series).
In flight 2 we welcomed back an almost full complement with 10 boats competing in close quarters in fine conditions. The short-format courses served to re-acquaint many with their work, after 6 months ashore.
Willzy and the crew of Feng Shui (1348) made a predictably strong season debut, finishing first overall from Affinity (1059) and Alliance (1295), but overall the racing was extremely close (see tracking here)
NO RACING NEXT WEEK
There is no racing scheduled for next week (following the long weekend).
The Spring Regatta will now take place on Saturday 19th November at Bucklands Beach. We will be sharing the race course with the Y88 fleet.
The annual Invitational will take place on 29th November. Send your suggestions for inclusion to Willzy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A friend of Antonio's (Echelon 1083) is looking for a spot on an Etchells. He is an experienced keelboat and dinghy sailor and has sailed in the Y88 fleet. If you are looking for crew, please contact Anonio (email@example.com)
RESULTS AND TRACKING
Results are here (Flights with tracking) and here (series)
Traditionally, the first flight of the season is abandoned for high winds, torrential rain and/or lightning and so the wonderfully benign conditions caught half the fleet napping and we were 7 for the opening sortie.
Fresh conditions on the dock promised to blow out a few cobwebs, but by the warning signal the breeze had dropped and continued to do so.
Hayden Whitburn's Upfront (814) adjusted best to the change of pace and stepped out to an enormous lead, which slowly diminished to a point where he must have been sweating bricks. But he held his nerve - and the lead - to drift over in first.
There is no tracking for this race - all owners need to re-activate tracking by logging back into Yacht-Bot and sharing their device with the fleet account (firstname.lastname@example.org) - instructions have been emailed to individual owners.
Next week'd weather looks pretty good for racing and we hope to see more of you out there for Flight 2. See you then.
Results here (flight) and here (Series)
REPORT BY LINCOLN FRASER
Ben, Sam and I headed off to Brisbane on a cool June Thursday morning for the Mooloolaba Etchells Australasian champs. Meeting Geoff in Brisbane, we hired our twin cab hilux “Bazza” for the easy 90 minute drive to Mooloolaba. Bazza came with a tow bar for bringing our boat back to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron after the regatta concluded. Bazza also came with a flashing light, roo bars, roll bars, VHF radio, etc – we felt very masculine as we pulled out of the Budget carpark, alongside a despondent looking business man in his little Hyundai i30!
Phil Smidmore had delivered our Etchell “Newby” up to Mooloolaba the preceding weekend. In a beautiful, cloudless 20+ degree afternoon, rigging took longer than expected as we had a first go at rigging a boat from scratch, but with some useful help from our boat park neighbours, including Australian yachting personality, Neville Wittey. Nev ran us through the benefits of using brasso on the hull and so Ben was dispatched to pick up bits and pieces from the marine and local stores, but, needless to say, by the time the race organisers came over and told us that the mobile crane crew were finishing up and we needed to get launched, we were a long way away from even giving the hull a good wash let, alone thinking about a fine polish!
A quick launching and then Ben and Sam paddled the boat down to the regatta marina where they moored up next to one of the pre-regatta favourites, Matt Chew’s Gen XY as the sun set. Matt is the only person to win the Mooloolaba regatta more than once.
The regatta was run by the world-class twin-brother PRO team of Ross and Kevin Wilson, with their wives, supporting local race organisers it is a very slick operation. The racing was on the beautiful sailing water well out off Mooloolaba beach. We were fortunate that the seas were kind – there were bar stories of days where the race committee would hold boats at the breakwater between surf sets, calling boats through with a “go, go, go, go” yell to get the boats out before the next big waves come through!
It was very good to catch up with old 470 friends including Tom King, who has gone on to much bigger and brighter things with an Olympic gold medal and Etchells World Championship under his belt and Mark Bradford who is now a top pro-sailor and who runs North Sails in Brisbane. Tom generously came on board Newby each day with his young son Lachie and would share tuning tips and thoughts on our setup, which was hugely valuable. The Australian fleet was very welcoming and generous and it was great to catch up with some of the friends we made at Lake Macquarie.
Day 1’s racing started with a gentle Southerly in a second clear blue sky day. Warming up against Dirk van der Struyf and his Perth-based team, we were a bit off the pace leading us to change jibs and soften the rig. The conditions were truly ‘champagne sailing’, I found that I had to loosen my buoyancy vest as racing in a T shirts was almost too hot on the runs! We had a great first race with a strong right shift that Geoff picked really well and, despite feeling a little slow, we had a great result finishing 7th out of 39.
Race 2 was a good consistent result with a 14th, this time Geoff had us work away from the locals and do an un-favoured right turn at the bottom gate heading out to sea on the left of the beat – we picked up a great 10 degree shift and made considerable gains and held out position on the run. The breeze was lightening and was now down to about 6 – 7 knots with a chop which was punched into on starboard – we were struggling to find height and speed in the lumpier conditions. The final race of the day was a really tough one for us after I shanked the start. Our lack of pace leaving us unable to hold lanes made for a lot of tacks and left us in 24th and thinking hard on the (really beautiful) sail back to the harbour. Gen XY held an overnight lead and had the honours of wearing the gold jersey for Day 2, although there was some caution around this as the Day 1 gold jersey was worn by last year’s winner Jean-Claude Strong and her team on Yandoo XX, unfortunately for them they were involved in a bad incident where, to quote them: “another boat became intimate with their boat” (or language to that effect) leaving them with a suitcase size hole in the hull.
Day 2 was again a light weather affair which saw us onto the VMG kite, but retaining the LMH jib as the forecast for day 3 was for up to 30 knots – we measured in the LMH and GM with a PCF main. Again, we tuned up with Dirk and his team ahead of racing but, again, we were off the pace despite a re-tune incorporating tips from Tom and his regatta fill-in crew, North Sail’s Michael Coxon.
Race 4 yielded up a handy 16th place after some great progress on the runs in the close racing. Race 5 was starting to get very light with crew down as we struggled to get the boat moving in the residual chop. Again after a poor start (I felt well out of practice) we made a strong recovery down the mine-field of a first run, only to be shut out at the bottom mark, having to decide between hitting a boat that infringed us hard, or an innocent boat softly I chose the latter which when combined with a stupid decision to try and do a 720 too close to the mark left us with a shocking 33rd on the score sheet – tough day at the office as the wind crumpled and we were towed back to the club.
Day 3 brought a change from the typical warm blue Queensland sky and dark clouds and wind made us feel more like home! Racing started in a good 16 – 20 knots with 25 knot gusts and sizeable seas.
Our Race 5 start was better but could at best be described as ordinary. Our speed was ordinary and I even managed a good Chinese gybe on the first run in a good 25 knot gust. Despite feeling good about the race we were disappointed to count off a 20th at the finish. It was at this point we tried to look beyond the rig settings and focused on the jib blocks which we changed for larger ones to suit our new jib sheets (as the jib sheets would not run through the smaller ones). I still had the small ones on board and we changed these between races. The breeze continue to build and the final race was going to be a good one! We pushed it at the start and came away on the front row, working the left with RQ’s Land Rat we rounded the top mark just inside the top 10. While a number of boats gybed off early on the first run, we held on and were rewarded with a sustained 20-25 knots and a good set of waves which saw us surf through to 3rd at the bottom mark with some world class boats right on our tail.
We worked low under Land Rat and Dirk’s Animal House and punched out to the right for flatter seas and a right shift off the beach. Nearing the top mark, we had found our boat speed and had closed right in on Land Rat and Animal House and had pulled away from the chasing pack. The Race Committee were recording 30 knots on the final run, which was a hold-on-tight affair – we managed to get past Dirk and were closing in on Land Rat, but then got out of phase with the waves as we started to think about simply finishing, not just finishing first. With the boats surfing such that the bow waves were landing behind the stern, it was a wild ride, which included a couple of broken masts and gear failure. We finished 3rd in the race and 15th for the regatta and were thrilled to have at last found some speed and to be able to control the boat (most of the time) in that breeze and sea state.
At the head of the fleet it was a remarkably close affair with Doug McGain winning the regatta by 1 point from Grant Hudson and his young team of relative newcomers.
The Australasian Champs is a fantastic regatta and we are all really keen to do this again next year. I highly recommend it and I am sure we can find good charter boats from the RQ fleet if others are interested in doing this also.
images from Live Sail Die
Well, we made it! Despite a slow, sweltering, windless Saturday that only saw 1 race, Megan Kensington and RNZYS Race Committee put their shoulders to the wheel and sent off 5 races in near-perfect conditions on Sunday to complete a cracking series.
Saturday's lottery suggested that the seies might belong to anyone, but in the steadier conditions of Day 2, Andrew Wills and the crew of Feng Shui (1348) took a firm hold on the championships and never looked like letting go.
Craig Greenwood and the crew of Affinity (1059) also steadied the ship after a horror start to proceedings (finishing out of time in race 1) to take a solid second place from Phil Pryde and the team aboard Split Decisions (914).
The fleet remained in good spirits throughout and every crew demonstrated exemplary good manners and sportsmanship in a truly Corinthian competition of which the fleet can be very proud.
The cruise back from Orakei (with cocktails courtesy of Mount Gay) was a very welcome end to a hot and often frustrating day on the water and surely one of the highlights of a great season.
Many thanks of course to the RNZYS Race Committee and also to the Sailing Office - Laurie, Georgia and Cooper - for all their hard work.
Particular thanks also to all of our various sponsors and supporters:
COAST NEW ZEALAND
our main sponsor, who sponsored all of the entertainment, logistics, tracking and who furnished prizes
We look forward to seeing you all again - and some new recruits - next season..
Results and TRACKING here
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.