Winter Series Open Race 8, 16th August, 2015 – The wind that wasn’t
By Tom Wheeler
Fine spring-like weather saw another good turnout of yachts, heading out along the main channel and through the harbour entrance in stately procession, ghosting along in the very gentle southwesterly breeze. The predicted building wind was anxiously awaited by skippers and crew as they anticipated the return downwind leg from A beacon and through the harbour entrance against the outgoing tide. With the promised wind not yet eventuating, the passage through the entrance and onwards into the western arm became a tactical minefield as each boat sought to chase the occasional light puffs of wind on offer. Jetstream made the most of her early start time, and led the fleet from start to finish, having never completely lost the wind at any point in the race. She was followed over the finish line by Rocky and Not Negotiable – both boats doing well despite running aground in their effort to avoid the tidal stream. The B division race proved a happy hunting ground for Force 10, who despite her late starting time made her way steadily through the fleet, benefiting from some unusual but successful tactical decisions. The stage was set for an intense close quarters duel for the lead with Nelani in the shallows leading up to Banks buoy, with Force 10 prevailing to claim first place of the shortened race ahead of Nelani, who were followed by Candidus in the dying wind. The promised 20 knot southwesterly breeze never eventuated, and the remaining yachts finished the afternoon becalmed at various points along the race course. Nevertheless, the day’s events was the subject of much animated discussion and story-swapping at the after-match prize-giving at the MOSC, attesting to the exciting nature of the racing.
Winter Series Open Race 7, 2nd August, 2015 – A sail of two halves
By Tom Wheeler
The sunshine and a very light wind were a pleasant change for the crews of the ten yachts participating in the seventh outing of the Winter Series. Unusually, the prestart manoeuvring featured the rattle of anchors being readied and deployed as all the boats battled to make headway over the start line off the Pilot bay wharf and up the main channel against the outgoing tide. Their spinnakers, once hoisted, made for a colourful sight, but the crews had to work hard to keep them filled. These conditions put paid to the Mark Foy handicaps, as the gaps between the boats quickly disappeared and progress was marked by wise choices or lucky breaks in harnessing the fickle zephyrs coming from a wide range of directions. Inevitably, the lighter and more powerfully rigged vessels stretched away from the more cruising orientated yachts. The leaders had rounded the first mark were well on their way downstream again heading towards the Mount before some of the tail-runners were halfway up the first leg. And so the race seemed set to be a classic drifter – but the weather gods had other ideas, as a 10 to 15 knot westerly abruptly filled in during the third leg, as the boats headed back up the main channel. The complexion of the B division race changed dramatically as Gillian and Force 10 made steady inroads into the race leader and eventual winner, Déjà vu, before Force 10 overtook Gillian on the penultimate leg to claim second place, leaving Gillian a close third. The finish of the A division race was similarly exciting, with Not Negotiable and Rocky engaged in a close quarters battle for first and second, with the former holding out for the win, and the ever-competitive Jetstream taking out third place. Overall, it was a very pleasant and eventful day’s racing, with an equally pleasant catch-up at the clubrooms afterwards. For the first time this featured a draw for all crew present with the lucky winner taking away a Burnsco gift voucher.
Winter Series Open Race 6, 19th July, 2015 – Every Cat has its day
By Tom Wheeler
The sixth outing of the winter series proved to be another to test the mettle of both the skippers and crews of the nine yachts that braved a gusty 20-25 knot south-westerly wind for valuable points in what is turning out to be a closely fought winter series. The smooth and fast sailing during the first leg downwind to A beacon turned out to be the calm before the storm, as a succession of boats were buffeted by tremendous bullets of wind pressure nearing Matakana Island. The gusts, estimated to be 30-35 knots, made for some spectacular round-ups, which had some boats completely laid over, while their crews grimly hung on. As the afternoon wore on, the gusts only increased in strength during the difficult beat up the western arm of the harbour against the outgoing tide. Wizzard excelled in the conditions- From her position as last starter, she relentlessly carved her way through the fleet, to lead the A division boats across the line, followed by Not Negotiable and Persuader, who took out second and third places for A division. Nelani also had a very fast race and her position at the head of the B division fleet was never seriously challenged. Candidus took second place in B division after holding off a strongly finishing Ghia, who secured third place. However kudus should also go to all the participants for their excellent seamanship and courtesy to fellow participants under testing conditions.
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