This weekend the South Island Finn Association held their Canterbury Championships in conjunction with the Charteris Bay Yacht Club (CBYC) annual regatta. 6 races were sailed over 2 days with one drop.
Conditions earlier in the week were looking a little dubious with talk of nor-west and southerly wind. In the end it was fantastic sailing with much of the regatta sailed in a moderate to freshening nor-easter.
There were 5 competitors on Saturday with Nigel Soper , a new skipper to the class, unable to sail due to CBYC commitments and Hugh Dimock making a guest appearance for Sundays racing. Ben Winter returned from overseas and was seen on the water for the first time this season and Mike Pearson also returned from overseas to make the start line in his new boat.
There was the mandatory display of new boats and equipments following a busy winter sourcing boats and gear from overseas. There was also much vexed yanking of the halyard by Denis and Chris both of who are suffering issues with halyard locks. Great when the sail is eventually up but bloody frustrating getting it there!
On the water the first race was sailed in a very light shifty southerly. Denis and Chris broke clear of the fleet only for Chris to park up off Quail Island (nice place to stop) to watch Andrew, Ben and Mike sail past in glassy waters on a non existent nor-easter. First to last in one race was it a sign of things to come? Denis won the shortened race.
The nor-easter filled in and the next two races were held in perfect sailing conditions.
After race 1 Andrew decided he needed to make his presence felt so when Chris and Andrew arrived at the top mark at the same time (both on port) and Denis was still there recovering from his previous port starboard with Ben, Andrew deemed he had right of way and created a Finn sandwich. Denis and Chris of course disagreed with Andrewsâ€™s assessment of the situation.
To make his point Andrew claimed a late (very late) buoy room at the bottom mark and there was a coming together with Chris again! Chrisâ€™s new boat was starting to feel the pain of NZ sailing! Shortly after that it turned into one of those days for Denis when his hiking strap broke and he performed a perfectly executed backwards role into the water. He had his nose in the lead prior to that. In the end Chris sneaked race 2 from Ben.
Race 3 was equally eventful. Denis enjoyed the water so much that he had another dip during the starting sequence for race 3 and then again half way up the first beat of the 3rd race. Just one of Those days! To redeem himself for his antics in race 2 Andrew threw the lead on the final run of the race when he jibed and his till extension came loose and dropped into the water. Look guys no hands! He sailed on perfectly for 70m or so before rounding up. Chris took out race 3 with Ben close behind.
Sundays racing was altogether less eventful with some good close racing in perfect sailing conditions, well less eventful until the last and deciding race. Denis had taken out the 4th race and Andrew the 5th with the rest of the fleet in close attendance in both, so it was down to the last race to decide this yearâ€™s championship. Denis, Andrew and Chris were in contention with Ben also in the mix for a podium finish.
To make it as hard as possible for himself Chris got over the line at the start but he got the miracle lift on the way to the top mark to get back in touch with the fleet. Denis and Andrew had put 50m on the fleet but they were closed down a little on the reach. With Chris needing to get at least 3rd to take out the championship he was hot on the heels of Ben who was holding third at that stage. He tacked away to get clear air and discovered how deadly central cleating blocks are. The main cleated half way through the tack and he shipped a sizable quantity of Charteris Bay . The fleet sailed on, Chris wallowed. There was no one to blame but the dick on the stick! Denis and Andrew had a good tussle for the rest of the race with Denis taking it out.
After a great weekend of close sailing the result was decided on a count back. Denis was crowned champion with 11 points, Andrew second also on 11 and Chris third on 12. Ben was very creditable 4th just one point back on 13 points, Mike 5th 20 points and Hugh racking up 30 points and 6th after not sailing the first day.
It was a brilliant weekend of tight and competitive sailing enjoyed by all in perfect conditions.
It was great to see all the boats finishing close together and hopefully the tight sailing will continue.