After two blown-out weekends the Sailing Committee made the call on Friday to bring the start of the final race of the Alan Martin Series forward to 1130 Saturday to try and get a race in ahead of the forecast blow. But at 8am Saturday, as Kate from After Midnight was having breakfast, it was looking miserable and unlikely with the cloud closing in, the drizzle hanging heavy on the hills, and no wind to speak of. Paul JD popped his head in to the shed – “Whaddaya think, Dr Bob?” “I reckon it’s good” said Bob unenthusiastically. While the Race Committee consulted, the ‘ruffian wind’ cleared the day and the faithful (but not the Wise Guys, who’ve belatedly learned to read NTCs) got ready. The Special Course flag (the one without the silver fern with blue and black) said it was on.
The drama started at the dock. So excited were the Commodore and the crew of Revs to go sailing and show Milly from Scotland that we’re made of sterner stuff, or perhaps just to get more ‘boats’ out on the water, that they rigged the gennaker sheet through the dock line, which brought their departure to a sudden stop (I think we just heard the Revs ‘safe word’).
The start had been moved from Jerningham to the Club start line, and RO Jim Gordon had picked courses that had each division heading to Horokiwi first, so there was some congestion and raised voices in the charge for the corner of the container terminal. Once past the corner the fleet settled into the beat to Horokiwi in the shifty, gusty breeze that is the western shore in a northerly. It was a good little chase with Div 3 nipping at Div 2 holding on to Div 1, but after rounding the top mark the fleets popped chutes and went their separate ways (Haumuri seemed to go their own special way for a while). Divisions 1 and 2 headed down to the Front Lead and Falcon Shoal, while Division 3 went to Halswell.
In Div 2 the race within a race between the two 930s was on again as Testarossa led Airship up the beat but lost out having to do two tacks to make the mark. Another one of those kite sheet rigging errors allowed Testarossa to catch Airship and the two stretched away from After Midnight and the Young 88s. Far ahead, Kyle and Bridgey were smoking it to the leading light on the three-wheeler ahead of Blink and the other leaners. Around the bottom mark, crikey, the tricycle is in the lead! Airship led Testarossa at the bottom mark by a good margin but, Airship being under crewed, Grant pulled it all back and then some in the grind back up to Horokiwi in the increasing breeze.
The three fleets all had to go back up to Horokiwi before making the final run to finish at the club. Now we all know it can get a bit shy on that run, so those that had the option were torn between gennaker or spinnaker.
Sailing in Div 1, The Guarantee, in only their third outing this season, took the gennaker option and had an awesome ride back to the club with sustained speeds of 15 knots. But Kyle and Bridgey stole the show riding the trike home in first, while Blink led the keel boats. While Revs had failed to shine upwind they gave Wedgetail and Blink a good chase downwind.
On balance, maybe gennaker was best and there were a number of broaches in Div 2 as the boats fought for gains. Testarossa had the advantage of Airship at the top mark this time, but Airship won the kite hoist and reef-shakeout tussle to get ahead, and from there it was try not to wipe out. Testarossa had a skid which let their rival further ahead. It was all hands to the back of the boat as the breeze touched the early 30s and the Rosses hit their stride. Approaching the line at 17+ Airship couldn’t take it any higher and had to finish in the corner between the OPT and the Clyde Quay seawall, which made for a motivated kite drop, while Testarossa’s 18+ had them make a gain to cross just a minute behind. Whistler was the first of the Y88s home in third place.
In Div 3, the usually-indomitable Titus Canby was overcome by the longer Haumuri which, having got back on track, loved the long legs and the final reach to the finish.
Back at the Club House we were delighted to have Shirley Martin in attendance, especially as she served up another good ribbing to Bridgey before presenting the Trophies to the Series winners.
Thanks a million to the hard working race committee for making the race happen from the start box and on the water in Caniwi, and props to the sailors who embraced the ruffian.
[also thanks to those who gave me the gossip]