The North Island Finn Champs weekend had everything, Good turnout, good wind, great racing, hard luck stories, fireworks displays, great hospitality, plenty of adult beverages and a little bit of controversy. Have to start by thanking the Thames Sailing Club team headed up by Sarah Deadman their commodore for the great hospitality we received. This is the 17th year this event has been run at Thames and a resounding show of hands at the prizegiving confirmed we’d be back next year.
Most sailors arrived on Friday evening starting with a pleasant meal at the local Workingmens Club then back to the Yacht Club rooms that would be home for the next 2 nights. After a few quiet rums (2 x 40oz Mount Gay bottles consumed) we settled down to sleep only to be woken at 1.00am when some very happy locals decided to celebrate our arrival with a monster fireworks display right in front of the clubhouse. Not too much thought went into setting up the display with the pyrotechnic specialist deciding it was just easier to throw the first lit firework back into the full box and standing back to see what would happen. The resulting display when on for the next 30 minutes until it finally settled down and allowed us to return to our beds.
Saturday dawned with a forecast 20 knots from the north filling in quickly. Early tides so an early 9.30am start to the 3 back to back races in the building breeze. The stories start from there with steady attrition thru the fleet and only 4 or the 13 boats finishing all 3 races. Capsizes, broken gear, broken bodies and strategic decisions to use the 3rd race as their drop made for a busy time for the race management and rescue boats throughout the day.
On the racing side Josh led after the first day with a 1,3,1 result from Karl with 2,1,2 followed by Dave H in 3rd with 5,2,3 and a steady performance from Mark Perrow with 4,4,4. After a 3rd in Race 1 Ray missed race 2 while he changed sails then proceeded to lead around the top mark in the 3rd race only to capsize spectacularly as he eased into the reach and ultimately not finishing so having to carry 2 x maximum point races for the day. Apart from Josh, the remainder of the fleet sailed back to the clubhouse to hear stories from all about their misadventures during the day. Josh was seen sailing over the horizon towards Kaiaua on a training sail. When he returned he described it as the best sail he’d had in the Finn ever and included a screaming reach that had his boat airborne off waves and included one capsize. Oh to be young again.
Saturday night was much more subdued after a barbeque meal described to us as a “light” dinner by the Thames hosts. Royce joined us that night and introduced us to his favourite drink, Vodka Lime and soda’s from his personal supply.
Sunday confirmed the forecast change to the Southwest with a breeze that built to 20 knots at times and plenty of shifts. The first race of the day had a heavily biased line with all but 3 boats over and although a General Recall was called no-one returned for the restart. The Race Officer had no option but to throw the race out which meant no discard for the resulting 5 race series.
Josh proceeded to show a clean transom for the 2 remaining races of the day with Ray working hard to erase the previous days problems and recover a respectable series fighting hard against Karl while both chased Josh around the track. Many tired but happy sailors returned to the club after racing most to hear the news of the decision to throw out the race and showing a lot of interest in the final results as they were put up on the board to see how they fared. Overall a very deserving winner and a very successful weekend.
Finally thanks to Kevin McGee who came over from Waiuku especially as race officer and his team of willing helpers. A well run regatta under trying circumstances at times.