Thanks for the short story below written by Korena Paterson and photos via Vauxhall Yacht Club. The weekend of 26th and 27th of November has been a windy one with planes aborting landing at Momona Airport, fatalities at sea in the North Island and even now as I look out my window from Roslyn, the the sea looks like a washing machine. The coastal forecast for Chalmers has seen constant gale warnings, but despite this an enthusiastic group of sailors turned up to compete at Vauxhall Yacht Club.
Russell Phillips – Southern Tack. www.southerntack.co.nz
Thirteen sunbursts competed in the Sunburst South Island Championships at Vauxhall last weekend. As well as competitors from Dunedin, boats travelled from Canterbury and Oamaru. It was also great to have a good number of high school sailors competing this year.
With a terrible forecast of gale NW, W and SW winds and conversations about cancelling the event in the week prior no one felt very optimistic about the chances of there being much racing over the weekend.
The race committee did a fantastic job getting 4 races run back to back on Saturday with a mix of windward/leeward and triangle courses. Racing was incredibly close with many boats finishing within seconds of each other and multiple position changes throughout each race. Typical of westerly winds, shifty conditions made sailing challenging and frustrating at times with some big gains to be had when you got it right (and horrible losses when you didn’t!). The top mark proved particularly interesting, seeming to sit in the shiftiest spot possible.
Sundays racing (complete with SW gale warning) was an added bonus after it looked unlikely we would get back out on the water. With 18-22 knots when racing started it was perfect conditions for some boats with the gusts keeping everyone on their toes. Race 6 of the series produced some of the most dramatic sunburst sailing experienced by most crews on the water when a spectacular squall complete with piercing hail ripped through the fleet as they turned to head to the finish line. Those with spinnakers up held on tight and literally flew down the course with only half a metre of the back of the boat in the water and travelling faster than most thought it possible for a sunburst to go. Those on the shore watched the spectacle and the carnage with numerous capsizes. Adrenaline was pumping as the boats came ashore and the event finished on a real high. Amazingly there were no reports of major damage, although almost every wind indicator was destroyed. Within 15 minutes the wind had eased back to a lovely sailing breeze but no one was upset the race committee didn’t send us back out for race 7.
Cantabrian Matt Neale sailing with daughter Emmeline in ex Otago boat Moonbeam II dominated the event winning 4 of the 6 races and finishing 5 points clear of 2nd placed Tecary (Craig Tomlinson and James Palleson). Third place was very tight with 4 boats all within 3 points of each other with Amazon (Pete McGrouther and Korena Paterson) just sneaking ahead.
A huge thank you to Vauxhall Yacht club for their usual wonderful hospitality and the race committee for great job in trying conditions. Another fabulous Sunburst regatta!!