An impishly inconsistent wind tested sailors in the third race of the Sandspit Yacht Club winter series on Sunday, July 7.
Ten vessels showed up at the starting line on time at 11am, gathering from Sandspit, Algies Bay and Kawau Island.
The course prescribed that the fleet sail from Sandspit out to and around Mayne Islands, and back to Christian Bay, before sailing the same route in reverse.
Conditions were treacherously calm until a 4-knot wind arrived just in time to give the fleet a good blow as the race began. In an early gambit, Saturday Night Special pulled up alongside table leader Arethusa and tried to literally take the wind out her sails.
It must have spooked Arethusa helmsman Garth Naulls because he tacked a mile north off course, chasing a wind in the channel.
Hijinks, helmed by Dave Wade, made quick time reaching Christian Bay from Mayne Islands and passed Sublime in the opposite direction on its way back, buoyed by an 8.7 knot wind. But it proved to be a fickle flurry, as the whole fleet became totally becalmed on the eastern side of Kawau Bay near Mansion House.
The starter boat was forced to pick up a buoy and shorten the race to end at Martello Rock.
Hi Jinx just managed to catch a final flutter and helmsman Dave Wade got line honours as first over the finish line, followed a few minutes later by Arethusa, Pulse, and Floyd.
The rest of the fleet foundered with a flap in their sails. The last yacht did not cross the finish line until 45 minutes after the first four. After taking handicaps into account, first place was given to Jeremy Noakes of Floyd, with a time of two hours and 18 minutes.
Noakes described the race as ‘light and flukey’ but fortunate for single hulls, which managed better in the wind than their typically faster catamaran cousins.
The winter series races are held fortnightly until the end of August and first prize is a voucher from Evolution Sails. Two races have had to be cancelled this season due to poor weather.
Special thanks to Graham Noakes and the crew aboard the Shemah for hosting Mahurangi Matters.