This summer is shaping up to be the busiest yet for the NZ Finn fleet with 10 regattas planned for both the North and South Islands including the addition of the Hurricane Classic in Wellington. This increase in activity is a reflection of the continued growth in the Finn Fleet here. 7 New Devoti’s have been imported into NZ and new sailors have joined the class from various sources creating a very competitive landscape.
The Waiuku Winter Championships over the weekend 1-2 September was the first of these regattas and the 13 boats that turned out for the event so early in the season is evidence of this growth in numbers and interest. The event started with a Bacon and Egg breakfast prepared by newly appointed Waiuku YC Commodore Peter Hull and wife Margaret ably helped by Alan’s wife Shana.
Peter and Margaret being the multi-talented individuals they are then jumped into the patrol boat and proceeded to run the 3 races for the day. Margaret, the experienced race officer, was then heard giving Peter instruction throughout the whole day on the water.
Being the first regatta there was always going to be some rustiness from those who hadn’t sailed for some time and the strongest breezes we’ve experienced through the winter also caught out others who’d forgotten how to hike.
Saturday provided a 12-15 knot north easterly with shifts of up to 40 degrees and gusts punishing those not paying attention. Welcome to new Finn Sailor Matt Butterfield who learnt quickly the kicker is important downwind with his first capsize. A mention also needs to be made to David H who still needs trainer wheels on his new Devoti while he practises the new downwind pumping techniques now made legal in the Finn.
We had the pleasure of hosting Matt Coutts for the 2 days also and his 3 years of full time Finn racing including extensive European regattas certainly reinforced his reputation as NZ’s best Finn sailor currently (Now that Dan’s in retirement). Matt is back in NZ for the summer to rest and rebuild finances and complete his Degree at Massey University.
His downwind technique learnt from the best was impressive which led to a comment from another Finn sailor that being an unfit desk bound Queen Street accountant he felt well worked over by a professional athlete downwind in the second race.
Day one didn’t go all Matt’s way with a 1,1,2 result. The 2nd in race 3 was inflicted by Ray Hall who established a good lead up the first beat and continued to build on this to secure a good win. Ray continues to be the form horse in the fleet in Auckland.
Tired bodies returned to the clubhouse after day one for a well deserved drink and meal put on again by Peter, Margaret and Shana.
Day 2 dawned with the forecast stiffening 20-25 knot north easterly with gusts approaching 30 Knots at times. North easterly in Waiuku is probably the least favourable wind direction creating large shifts and gusts that had most of the fleet struggling.
Some sailors decided not to venture on to the water. Jim Goodare took over start boat duties allowing Margaret to stay warm and dry on shore. Stu Shadgett was also a welcome addition to patrol boat duty being kept busy all day assisting capsized boats especially at the wing mark.
The first race sorted the fleet out quickly with a number returning to shore after capsizing plus Mark Perrow having the rig in his boat fail and needing to be towed home. A job for Royce to repair deck and hull and a discussion to be had with Bushy about the robustness of the mast Mark had just taken delivery of.
Matt proceeded to show a clean transom to the fleet winning all 3 races. Ray nipped at his heals to keep him honest and the remainder of the depleted fleet tried valiantly to keep up. David H won the weekends prize for most capsizes (1 Saturday and 3 Sunday) receiving the valuable prize of 4 empty Coke cans (Denoting the 4 “cans” for the weekend) at the prize giving.