Current National Champions Murray Gilbert and Jonathon Burgess were back to defend their title and expected to be pushed hard by the fleet, especially the Napier pairing of Hayden Percy and Scott Pederson who were a very close second at the Nationals and had just returned from the PT Interdominions in Sydney as part of the winning team (and Hayden as the overall winner). To add to the mix was Rob Ward and Bruce Yovich, 4th kiwi team at the last World Championship sporting a new boat, these two are known for being super quick downwind so there was an expectation they would be unbeatable now and Sally Garrett and Neil Easton who took away the most wins in the Nationals. Plus the four new skippers who it was their first North Island’s in the fleet, two of them the first regatta in the class.
Saturday saw vintage Flying 15 conditions of fairly consistent 20 knot breeze and the slightly overcast skies meant the pleasure boat fleet stayed home keeping wakes to a minimum! It was a bit of shock for the fleet as the last time we sailed in any breeze was in Napier in November 2016. Murray and Jon in Ffrenetic sailing with the new class jib were dominant with 3 wins in 3 races, followed closely by Sally Garrett and Neil Easton in The Godfather with three 2nds. Hayden and Scott were 3rd in the first two races but struggled in the last race finishing 7th. This was the windiest day the pair had been FF sailing in to date.
Saturday afternoon and evening was spent at the ASC with drinks and food numbing the pain of a long day on the water. Fleet members unable to sail this weekend drifted in unable to stay away.
Sunday dawned with a rain which soon cleared and leaving a very blustery South Westerly, the average wind speed was lower than Saturday but the gusts were stronger. Murray and Jon continued their domination with another three firsts to win the regatta overall, Hayden and Scott improved with three seconds, fleet newcomers Tom Peyton and Mike Sherwood found their feet and clocked up a 3rd in the final race. Overall Murray and Jon defended their title, with Hayden and Scott narrowly taking second (by 1 point) from Sally and Neil in The Godfather.
Hayden and Scott also won the handicap series, but due to the prize sharing rules Explosive sailed by Tom Peyton and Mike Sherwood (who were second) came away with the winner’s rum. Nathan Percy and Selwyn Pedderson won the Graeme Robbins Sails spot prize, for the first crew outside the top 3, with one person over 50, that finished all the races and it was the skipper’s first North Islands.
The stronger winds over the 2 days provided exciting sailing and some definite challenges for experienced crews as well as those new to the class. Thank you to RO Helena Horswell and her team for running a great series.