Day 1 dawned with overcast skies and a 10-12knt northerly with thunderstorms forecast. Once out on the course area the wind proceeded to shift progressively east making laying a true, fair beat impossible. With the appearance of dark and menacing rain clouds and a sudden 30knt easterly the fleet were sent ashore while the wind settled. The afternoon proved no better with the wind shifting SW,W,NW,N then NE as course after course was set and re-laid. A PRO’s nightmare, fair to say he was on a hiding to nothing. Finally at 1600 the weather gods claimed victory and 90 very cold and wet sailors/officials made their way back to the ramp with no races completed. Auckland had picked a fine time to end it’s summer drought! Burgers supplied by the club upon return to shore were gratefully received, warming hands and filling stomachs! After weeks of 20-30 DegC days the sudden return to a mere 16 DegC was proving hard to take!
Sailors woke on Saturday to more of the same with many wondering if the Ark would make an appearance! By now we were craving a race, any race would do. The PRO had another weather nightmare on his hands but to his credit and relief of the sailors three races in very variable wind conditions were completed. Ray picked up with where he had left off at the previous regatta completing the day with an impressive 1,3,2 score card in such random conditions to lead from an equally consistent Mark (2,2,4) with Karl trailing on 3,1,7. The day was notable for a progressively easterly veering wind culminating with the arrival of Armageddon on the final upwind leg and then downwind run to the finish of the last race. The final beat of that race began in a variable 5knt N wind which after the leaders rounded the bottom mark progressively shifted to the NE allowing boats that rounded behind to lay the top mark ahead of the leaders. During the beat the wind shifted to the east and strengthened to approximately 20knts. Torrential rain decreased visibility to 50m with many boats having difficulty locating the top mark. By now the leader board had changed significantly from the bottom mark with Andrew, Mark and Nick leading from Karl with Ray having dropped to 8th. The leaders rounded the top mark in torrential rain with no hope of seeing the finish. Line abreast in about 25knts now of wind with nil visibility they charged in what they though was the right direction….blissfully unaware the wind had now changed to the E then SE while gusting now to about 35knts. None of these boats was to figure on the final podium. Denis rounding the top mark well adrift of the leaders but in a break in the rain saw the fleet (well rain squall with leaders swallowed inside) ahead sailing well low of the finish, pinned his ears back and enjoyed a power reach to ultimate victory. Truth be told if we’re honest with ourselves we in the leading bunch were a bunch of dumbasses, we all had compasses and were well capable of calculating and sailing the reciprocal bearing of the top mark displayed by the committee boat at the start. However too intent we were on beating each other that we lost sight of this important detail! Grinding our teeth we ended up beating upwind to finish, so far had we sailed past the finish line. Well sailed Denis, a perfect example of making the most of your circumstances! Ray was another who sailed that last run well. Races sailed in conditions like that make yachting memorable where the battle is as much against the elements as each other..and sets our sport apart from others.
By now the course area was littered with capsized 3.7’s and singlehanded J14’s leaving the PRO little choice but to abandon racing for the rest of the day as club RIBs went into rescue mode. The mighty finns were the only class that day to have no sailors capsize. Having negotiated the ramp with boats safely ashore the club turned on pottles of steaming nachos to once again warm us up…..was summer never going to come back…was this rain never going to stop!
Sunday dawned….and the sun had returned together with a light SW breeze. With the wind forecast to build all left the shore with medium/heavy sails hoisted for what was to finally be a rain free, warm, summers day. The club at last able to showcase the conditions it is justly famous for. The PRO leapt into action feeling thankful I’m sure he’d go home that night with as much hair left on his head as he had upon starting the day. Courses were set and race starts promptly underway. For a finn sailor conditions this day were glamorous and what we live for with 12-18 knots making for power upwind sailing and awesome free pumping runs. Ray, Mark and Karl largely dominated the podium positions for the 4 two lap windward/leeward courses races finally completed. The big units of Mark and Ray having an edge over Karl upwind with Karl turning the tables downwind to ultimately win each of the 4 races sailed. Finishes between Ray and Karl were particularly close with Karl often coming from behind in the final stages of each run to win by only 10-20m. It was noted that once Mark learns the art of free pumping he will be very hard to beat having led around most top marks of each race only to lose each lead downwind. Time to give up that OK mate and concentrate on a boat you were made to fit into!
Racing this day was notable for keenly contested start lines and first beats with the fleet rounding the top mark in very close proximity. It was not just Mark who will benefit hugely from improving their downwind technique. Again this day the top South Island sailors improved noticeably as the day wore on with Denis ultimately topping that table. Chris notably beat Mark in the third race of the day to score an impressive 3rd. Further back in the fleet other battles wore on. Impressive was the fact that our legend (over 70yrs) Maurice completed every race in style. Gerrit long time class stalwart and chief measurer at near 70 also turned in some impressive performances, improving every race as he came to grips with his further modified Martin Marinastica. Finishing 11th in the final race he must be well pleased in his boats increased performance…..I wonder if he can do the same to our Devoti classics?
The fleet finally hit the beach, fair to say completely knackered after four 50min races, having experienced Maraetai at it’s best. Final podium positions saw Karl narrowly retain his national title from Ray with Mark in 3rd place. Top junior was Andrew Miller of Timaru finishing in a creditable 12th place overall at only his second nationals. Paul, Nick, Cameron and Hans raced well continuing with the gains made at last years contest finishing behind the South Island powerhouses of Denis, Brendon, Chris and Mike. Sadly Rob Coutts was unable to finish the contest after damaging his boat during the final race on Saturday. Dave after many months absence renovating his house was always there, particularly at the Auckland’s but faded a little during the nationals as “time in the boat” perhaps came into play.
This regatta was also the trial to select the NZ team to compete in the Gold Cup later this year in Melbourne – the International Finn Association World Championship. NZ is only awarded two places in this restricted entry contest on the basis of it’s association membership numbers. As the top 2 placegetters Karl and Ray are now eligible to represent NZ at this prestigious event. For every true Finn sailor winning this event is every much as important and in fact harder to win than an Olympic gold.
The class would like to express it’s sincere thanks to Barfoot and Thompson for sponsoring the event and Maraetai SC for hosting us. In some extremely difficult conditions a near full race program was ultimately completed with the final days champagne sailing leaving a fantastic lasting impression. Hats off to the PRO and race management for enduring! Their efforts are truly appreciated.
A final big shout out to PACIFICA for their outstanding support of the South Island team and Eileen (Maurice’s wife) for running their rented accommodation during both contests.
|2||2||Ray Hall||Tamaki YC||1||-3||2||2||2||2||2||14||11|
|3||4||Mark Perrow||Waiuku/ Wakatere||2||2||-4||3||3||4||3||21||17|
|5||10||David Hoogenboom||Waiuku YC||7||7||6||-11||4||5||5||45||34|
|7||20||Chris Wells||Naval Point||-14||6||10||8||7||3||4||52||38|
|9||11||Hans van del Wal||NPCL||10||-16||9||7||8||8||10||68||52|
|10||14||Paul Ryland||Naval Point||11||9||3||10||-13||11||9||66||53|
|14||193||Gerrit Bearda||Waiuku YC||-15||13||12||13||15||14||11||93||78|
|15||9||Rob Coutts||KBBC||9||4||(17.0 DSQ)||17.0 DNC||17.0 DNC||17.0 DNC||17.0 DNC||98||81|