On 27-29 January, Helter Skelter competed in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, a regatta for keelboats, trailer yachts and sports boats. Helter Skelter was joined by three other Wellington boats that made the trek north – Daisy Duke, Magic Trick, and Onco Fonco.
To make the most out of the week, Phil, Craig and Mikey travelled north on Saturday with the boat and were joined on Sunday by Northlanders Finn and Isabel, giving us the same crew as last year. After getting the boat prepared on Sunday, we used Monday and Tuesday to train and settle into our positions on the boat.
In the Sports Boat Division, Helter Skelter was competing against Daisy Duke, Magic Trick, Angry Dragon, Animal Biscuits, and a fleet of Magic 25s. Animal Biscuits was an unknown quantity leading up to the regatta, as she has been retrofitted with foils. The crew of Animal Biscuits were still learning how to sail with foils and used the regatta to test themselves.
The regatta provided three days of varied wind conditions. On paper, Helter Skelter was the third fastest boat, behind Angry Dragon and Daisy Duke. We were very happy to get a few wins on line against Daisy Duke. By the end of the first day, we were sitting in first place on the handicap results – but it was close. So far, so good.
Day two produced light wind conditions. The second race of the day was shortened to just one lap of a windward/leeward course. We parked up just after the start of the race and sat there for five minutes. The wind then changed 180 degrees, allowing us to hoist the kite to get to the first mark. We then headed straight to the finish without tacking from the top mark to finish second on line. As is the norm at Bay Week, the third race of the day was a bay race. We were doing well for most of the race, but managed to get ourselves stuck in the lightest of the light airs within sight of the finish line! This was our worst race of the regatta – thankfully the SIs allowed one drop. At the end of day two, we had slipped back to second in the standings for handicap but it was still very tight amongst the first four boats.
Day three saw the wind pick up after a southerly change came through on Thursday night. The conditions were more difficult than the previous two days, with the wind being very shifty and gusty. Judging by the number of shredded kites visible across the bay on Friday, the local sail makers would have been rubbing their hands together.
In the first race of the day, we got to the top mark and uncharacteristically decided to be conservative and kept our kite on deck on the first downwind leg. We stayed dry and kept the mast pointing upwards. We snapped out of it by the second downwind leg and hoisted the kite. We sacrificed our handicap results to have more to give for the two remaining races. The conditions eased after the first race and Helter had a good second race of the day. The final race of the regatta, another bay race, started well for us. While we avoided capsizing, we got hurled around on the trapezes and lost our footing from time to time. More than once we got to see Helter’s personality when nobody has hold of the tiller. On each occasion we managed to quickly tidy ourselves up and eventually headed back to the main harbour and what by now were considerably stronger winds. It was a hard slog to the finish, with no further opportunity to hoist the kite. We survived the day and headed back to Opua to dry out and de-rig. We arrived at the prize giving to hear that we had taken out first place on handicap.
All in all, it was a great regatta, and we look forward to defending our crown next year!