Murray Gilbert and Jonathan Burgess take NZ title in final race
The 2018 New Zealand Flying Fifteen National Championship was hosted by Waikawa Boating Club as part of the Lawsons Dry Hills Keelboat Regatta.
For the first time ever the New Zealand Flying Fifteen Nationals were held in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. This area is notorious for fantastic wine and stunning scenery and for what the out of town competitors soon learned the locals call ‘Soundsy weather’. Deep coves and high hills make for interesting and hard to predict changes in both wind direction and velocity, and the regular ferries that connect the North and South Islands added another interesting dimension. The Waikawa Boating Club hosted a friendly well run regatta with the Race Management team setting excellent courses throughout the event.
Day 1 was overcast with a shifty 10 to 15 knot SE breeze that lightened as the day progressed. The racing got underway on time and all 3 scheduled races were completed with 3 different winners, the third race of the day produced the most surprising result with Silver boats taking out first, second and third. ‘Ffrenetic’, ‘Florin’ and the ‘Godfather’ all won races and consistent sailing from ‘Femme Fatale’ meant there was very little between these boats by the end of the day.
Day 2 dawned still and damp and although the rain stopped overnight there was too much moisture for a seabreeze to form. Racing did get underway just after 1300hrs when a very ‘Soundsy’ NW breeze arrived allowing 2 races to be completed. ‘Ffrenetic' establishing substantial leads in both these races before holes in the breeze allowed the rest of the fleet to catch up. She ended the day with 2 seconds, ‘Fflorin' and ‘Femme Fatale’ taking out the wins.
“One of the trickiest Nationals in 14 years, no matter how big our lead was it was never comfortable and often evaporated and was swept into the sea before our very eyes! The race committee did a superb job in very trying conditions” said Murray Gilbert, ‘FFrenetic'
Day 3 started a bit like day 2 with no breeze and the Fifteen fleet having a chance to get to know some of the keelboat sailors as we drifted around, handily however the land had dried out and just after 1100hrs, the seabreeze kicked in. Straight down the Sound providing what can only be described as champagne sailing conditions for the last 3 races of the regatta. ‘The Godfather’ won the first 2 races of the day with ‘Ffrenetic' just edging out ‘Fflorin' on the last beat of the last race to take out the series on countback after both boats finished equal on 14 points. ‘Femme Fatale’ held on to third with 19 points, 1 ahead of the ‘Godfather’ on 20 points.
“I have never won a race in the Nationals before, I have now won 3 but still haven’t got my name on a Gold Fleet Trophy!” Sally Garrett skipper of the ‘Godfather’ who came away with the most race wins in the regatta and finished 4th.
Overall Standings (top 3)
1 NZL 3840 - Ffrenetic - Murray Gilbert and Jonathan Burgess
2 NZL 3091 - Fflorin - Hayden Percy and Scott Pederson
3 NZL 3092 - Femme Fatale - Callum and Simon Radford
All photos courtesy of the Waikawa Boating Club. Find them in the Gallery.
Report by Jonny Fullerton on behalf of Flying Fifteen International