'A blustery day gave way to a more beguiling lull ahead of the the 6:00 PM start, but by the warning signal it was fairly whistling down the course, against the last of the flooding tide. This made for a sporty start and an epic downhill slide, with Feng Shui (1348) leading the charge from an eight-boat fleet over some rowdy surf.
Tragically (particularly for an unusually well-placed Tortuga (779)), the downwind mark had not been set and the first race was abandoned. However, a new race was quickly re-set and the fleet set off again in similar breeze, albeit over a flatter course on the now-ebbing tide.
It is a sad reflection upon the paucity of homegrown Kiwi sailing talent that your correspondent has had to fly in his crew from the UK and Spain, but Rosie (fresh off the jet), Ellie and Antonio fully justified the price of their airfares (it's their suite at the Langham that's really killing me) by bringing Tortuga (779) home a comfortable 2nd in Race 1, behind Feng Shui and ahead of Valsheda (950) - welcoming guest-helm Jan Dawson on an impressive debut.
Race 2 was a far closer affair, with the boats so tight at the top mark that, paradoxically, the spreader mark was not missed. In what amounted to a sprint, Feng Shui took another bullet from Upfront (814) and Valsheda (950). Torguga had held her own until the jib halyard cleat gave way, but avoided a total loss thanks to quick work by the crew (whose pay has nevertheless been docked).
Race 3 was, frankly, odd. The race committee got the start sequence underway with commendable alacrity, but while some of the fleet were still some way off. When the start signal sounded, only 3 boats were anywhere near the line, and 2 of them - Tortuga and Feng Shui - were close enough to it, that an individual recall seemed to be aimed at them. But no. It was for the (distant) late-comers. This, your correspondent learned only after having re-crossed the line behind Feng Shui. Consequently, Windward (1114) parlayed a late start into a comfortable win from Feng Shui and Tortuga.
With only one flight remaining, Feng Shui seems relatively safe in the top spot - but second place is very much up for grabs between Valsheda and Upfront.
Many thanks to the race committee and congratulations to Jan Dawson and crew on a strong flight to keep Valsheda in second spot on the leader board.
Results here (flight) and here (series).
Alex Webster is Auckland Fleet Captain and runs this website, so blame him.