It was a little familiar in the end, as we returned back to the club in the rain motoring around Browns island after a great couple of days racing in the 2021 Class Champs.
Max Headroom, skippered by Phil Yuill, was added to the winner’s trophy for the 4th year in a row, after an absence of a regatta in 2020 due to Covid-19. Once again, they showed how to manage a series, and although they did not win the most races, they only had results in the top 2 after their solitary 3rd place was dropped.
The victory was hard fought though, with just 1 point separating them from another repeat front runner, Hard Labour helmed by Cameron Thorpe. They sailed well, particularly on the second day when the wind freshened to 20 knots and thy won 2 of those 3 races.
The regatta started quietly enough on Saturday 12 June in a 10 knot Easterly in Tamaki Strait, in the same waters as course E of the America’s cup.
The 8 boats met there coming from both Westhaven bases and Half Moon Bay, with the Buckland’s Beach Yacht Club giving a lesson in effective race management, running the event without fault.
In the first race, racing got away on time and soon the 3 boats Max Headroom, Hard Labour and Rainbow IV, helmed by Alan Smith showed their pedigree by leading round the first mark. Not far behind however was The V Team, Tony Evans, who was to show consistent pace throughout the regatta to keep the other 3 on their toes.
The forecast was for a left bend in the breeze as the wind was predicted to trend to the North East as the day went on. As it turned out the right marginally paid on the first day overall and the NE came in after racing.
On the first run Hard Labour led Rainbow and Max with The V Team 4th.. A series long tight battle began at this point between Shortie (Paul Watson), Flashwave (Andrew McDonald), and Starmaker (Roger Hudson). Penury (Mike Paauwe) completed the fleet around the mark.
Positions held downwind. The V Team closed a bit to the leading 3 and tacked to the left around the mark in a move that they would regret. Starmaker got caught with too much momentum in that last couple of boat lengths to the mark and found themselves inside Shortie when they didn’t have mark rights, leading to a 720 and a lot of work to do to get back in the race
The 3 leaders made their way to the right and The V Team stayed to the left and paid the price for a right hand shift, dropping to 6th behind Shortie and Flashwave at the second top mark
Down the run, Hard Labour lead Rainbow to win, with Max 3rd. Shortie held off The V Team who managed to overhaul Flashwave for 5th. Starmaker had left themselves too much to do and finished behind Penury.
With a short time gap between races there was little rest and before you could stuff a sandwich in or reapply sunscreen – yes it was a beautiful day – the 5 mins gun had gone.
The start was even and once again Max, Rainbow and Hard Labour headed the race with The V Team pushing hard.
Rainbow this time, got away and sailed a clean race for the victory. Max was second and Hard Labour 3rd, with The V Team finishing close behind
Starmaker sailed a much better race beating Shortie who pipped Flashwave by just 2 seconds. There would be a few close finishes like that, such was the competitive nature of the racing. Penury finished just 30 seconds behind Flashwave, with the whole fleet finishing within 5 minutes.
Race 3 proved to be a challenge for Hard Labour who had a poor start and had to make a few tacks to clear their air before they could settle into the race.
Max and Rainbow got the break this time and pulled away, with Max finishing first and Rainbow second
The V Team stayed close and held 3rd for most of the race but could not hold off Hard Labour on the last run and had to settle for 4th by just 2 seconds.
Behind them the fleet had settled into a pattern with Flashwave, Starmaker and Shortie battling hard together, with Penury a further few minutes back.
With the left hand predicted shifts not yet here and the wind still in the east at about 10 knots, the last race of the day could prove to be tricky. However, the wind held steady and this time the race went to The V Team after a good clear start and getting the first couple of shifts right. They held first around the whole course to finish comfortably ahead of Max.
At the first mark, though, after The V Team and Max went around, the other 6 boats were so close they all arrived at the mark at about the same time, leading to a few words of advice and instruction being exchanged between the boats.
This was forgotten by the finish where Hard Labour finished head of Rainbow. Starmaker pipped Flashwave by 3 seconds and Shortie finished 7th, comfortably ahead of Penury.
About 10 mins after the finish, the wind did finally fill in from the left and strengthen a little more. It was a relief the change did not come during the racing as the conditions were light but fair and consistent for all.
As the fleet motored back to BBYC for the association meal and AGM and the chance to reflect on the days racing, It did not escape anyone that we had just had 4 brilliant races with close racing and the scoreboard showed 4 different winners. After a year of disruption in 2020 and no class championships, clearly the racing is as good as ever.
The low tide provided the final tactical decision of the day. Rainbow opted to shoot the gap and go into the Tamaki estuary via Musick point, the others followed with caution and when Rainbow pulled up quickly and stopped, stuck in the mud, the other boats changed their minds and headed out round Browns Island
Max showed patience in the situation and timed their run to perfection 20 mins later, once the tide had come in a little.
The evening saw the class dinner and AGM. With some new attendees – and some older ones – the class looks to be ready to re-establish itself.
Sunday dawned with the promise of more wind and 3 races tied into the BBYC winter series King of the Strait series. The 1020’s headed out earlier to get in a race before the clubs 2 race programme began.
In the first race of the day Rainbow had a great first beat and looked high and fast. They made it to the first mark in good shape along with Max and Hard Labour. However, they slightly underlaid and pinched for the mark, unable to tack due to the starboard boats coming in. They got in irons and stopped and the whole fleet sailed round them while they sat dead in the water. Starmaker, then Flashwave and Shortie went around the mark next with The V Team 6th.
The V Team gained downwind and got past Shortie and Flashwave, rounding the bottom mark just behind Starmaker.
Max led Hard Labour, but was to have their own drama at the first bottom mark. During the spinnaker drop the snapshackle failed at the head and the sail was released half way down and freefell to the deck. A strange situation which did not cost anything that run but did present a challenge on the next downwind. They used the second genoa halyard and ended up winning the race by 12 seconds from Hard Labour.
The V Team continued its comeback and eventually got past Starmaker on the last run to finish 3rd. Flashwave and Shortie were next and Rainbow never recovered from the issues at the first top mark.
Max spent the time between races with someone up the mast recovering the halyard.
In the second race of the day it was Hard Labour all the way finishing comfortably ahead of Max, who really only needed to finish one place behind for the last 2 races to take the regatta.
Rainbow recovered this race to finish 3rd after climbing back through the fleet. The V Team was 4th and Flashwave, Starmaker, Shortie and Penury completed the fleet With Starmaker just 4 seconds ahead of Shortie this was yet another difference of less than 5 seconds.
The wind had built to about 18 gusting 22 knots and the looming rain clouds were getting nearer on the horizon to the North. The sunscreen and t-shirts of yesterday were gone and there was definitely and winter chill and the prospect of getting wet.
It was The V Team’s turn for drama in the last race of the regatta. A few seconds before the start as everyone else’s genoa’s were being sheeted for full speed, theirs came crashing to the deck as the halyard snapshackle failed. The crew scrambled and used the second halyard to re-hoist the sail, but the fleet had gone by then and it was to be a catch up race for them.
Hard Labour got out in front and try as they might, they could not shake Max and force a boat between them, which is what they needed to win the regatta. Max held on for 2nd and took the series overall.
Shortie finished their regatta on a high with their best race of the weekend, sailing well and error free to finish 3rd, just 2 seconds ahead of The V Team who had done well to get back to 4th after the genoaless start.
Rainbow finished the regatta with a 5th to be 3rd overall and Flashwave edged Starmaker.
Shortie, Flashwave and Starmaker ended on the same points. Shortie got 5th on countback with their last race 3rd and Starmaker were 6th with a 4th. Flashwave and Penury filled the 7th and 8th positions respectively.
Accolades to the BBYC who ran a fantastic series and were great hosts on the Saturday night.
It was great to see a couple of boats stay at the club for the weekend – it made a whole social event out of the regatta too. Having Share Delight (Mike Lanigan) on the course on Sunday was great too. It was good to see interest in the racing from outside those competing.
See you all next year!