By Day 3 of the Flying Fifteen New Zealand National Championship I was already pretty knackered. I felt aches and pains in parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed! But it was so worth it, because the sailing in this fleet is addictive. I wanted more, and actually couldn’t wait for the final day of racing to begin.
And we did wait… Waiting, waiting waiting… When we left the dock it was about 1000 hours, and the first race didn’t get away until about 1330! But the patience paid off because a perfect sea breeze filled in providing some of the best racing conditions of the regatta.
Race 6: We managed to get a clear line off the start and were loitering around the top 15 at the first mark rounding. We consistently had good tacks and gybes and were holding our place nicely in the pack. It was a pretty clean race for us, just going through the motions and keeping out of trouble. All was going to plan until we (ok I), broke the furling line. Not ideal for this class because furling is just as important as trimming. We struggled on coping for the rest of the race, but needed to get it sorted before Race 7. Originally we thought we ended up about 11th, but the results showed 15th. Still pretty happy with that!
Race 7: The final race of the regatta. This was it. We had to go out on a high! Brian attempted to get our jib furler fixed but with no luck. We were going to have to deal with it! On the start line we struggled not having the same manoeuvrability as the rest of the fleet and I think psychologically we were just having one. We didn’t get off to the best start after we both hesitated on a call, which meant we just locked ourselves into a cupboard! I didn’t tell Brian, but at the top mark there were only about 10 boats behind us! Well this wasn’t how we wanted to end the regatta! But we kept fighting on, and after a few slick moves, we climbed back up to 29th. There was one tack to go… Come on Suellen, nail it! No… I smashed my head into the boom so hard that I had a little vomit on the way in. I was in pain, I was in agony, but I think that was more from the seven hard races of Flying 15 sailing! My hands were burning and I couldn’t feel my legs. After a bit of quiet time to collect myself, we congratulated each other on a great regatta.
Brian and I had two hours of training leading into the Nationals so really didn’t have a lot of expectations! But we are both competitive sailors and wanted to do well. We ended up 18th overall and 5th Kiwi boat, which we are both pretty happy with.
At the prize giving we rallied around with our fellow Royal Akarana Yacht Club team mates to cheer for Craig Coulam & Adrieene Rekke who were second kiwis, and for Jenny Price and Alison Howitt who were the first all ladies crew and third on handicap.
Handicap? There were handicap results in this regatta? Being our first Flying 15 regatta, we didn’t realise such a category existed, and when our names were called out as the winners of this, we both just cracked up with laughter and couldn’t believe it.
“Well that proves we either had moments of brilliance or just worked the system with our consistent inconsistency!” I said to Brian when we sat back down.
It was pretty cool to win a trophy that our names will be engraved on. Three days, seven races. It was worth every blister, broken finger nail and head banging moment. The Flying Fifteen is an awesome class and highly competitive. Don’t think that you can just get in a boat and dominate. These guys and girls have been sailing the class for generations and know what they are doing. But don’t let that put you off as well. The better the fleet, the more you improve, and I definitely learnt loads from this regatta that I will take back to my M-Class sailing.
If you ever have the chance to sail/race a Flying Fifteen then I highly recommend it. They are keelboats with the liveliness of a dinghy! The best of both sailing worlds!
Congratulations to the guys that finished on the podium:
1st – Matt Owen & Andrew Reed (AUS)
2nd – Aaron Goodmanson & Alister Rowlands (NZL)
3rd – Charles Apthorp & Alan Green (GBR)
Best of luck to Brian and his wife/crew Briget for their worlds regatta, and to the entire fleet. Racing for the worlds begins on Sunday and there will be race reports provided by the New Zealand sailors each day of the regatta.
Thanks to Harry and Zhik NZ for kitting me out with the best sailing gear. Even though my body hurt on the inside, on the outside I was as comfortable as a kitten on a pillow. Having decent gear is half the battle, so when it’s time to upgrade your wetsuit, rashie, boots, hat, life jacket or anything, then get onto the Zhik website or visit a store. In Auckland, Zhik is located at the Victoria Park Market with loads of stock to suit everyone.
Thanks as well to Napier Sailing Club, the volunteers, officials and everyone involved with hosting this regatta. What a great club with wonderful hospitality and facilities! I really hope to do another regatta there in the future.