by Ray Hall
Hall pictured at 2013 World Finn Masters La Rochelle France
Excellent sailing conditions greeted the 12 Finn sailors for the second round of the Craig Monk Summer Series, the Auckland Finn Champs held over the weekend 7-8th December.
While not the sea breeze that was hoped for the Norwest winds varying between 5 and 25 knots gave the fleet a solid workout at the venue for the 2015 Finn Gold Cup.
Saturday saw 4 races sailed. Race 1 started in full hiking conditions the Oscar Flag up for unrestricted pumping which died to 6-8 knots by the top mark , Ray Hall picked the shifts correctly to lead at the top mark from Tom Brien and Karl Purdie. The order remained the same until the bottom mark and as the wind softened more the richer became richer as Hall was able to pick the pressure and sail away to the easiest win of the regatta. Dirch Anderson sailed through the fleet for second followed by Brien.
A delay was inevitable as the RO waited for the wind to stablise and Race 2 was away in 8-12knts. Alan Dawson sailed the first beat cleanly and lead at the top mark. Hall was buried back in the fleet and Mark Perrow sailed good angles on the run to lead at the bottom mark. Hall sailed through to challenge Perrow on the beat to round the top mark together with Hall catching the first gust on the downwind leg to take the gun from Purdie and Perrow. Illia Ovslilro sailing in only his second Finn Regatta was starting to show talent and beat a number of old hands.
Oscar was up for Race 3 and the big boys started to wind up the pressure with Purdie, Perrow and Hall rounding the top mark with a clean break. Free pumping in flat water is a taxing affair and Purdie created a lead on the run through his superior technique. Perrow and Hall rounded the bottom mark together and chased Purdie hard but were covered well , however Purdie had not seen the course number changed pre start and cross the finish line to see the fleet rounding for a third lap. Hall seized the chance and cleared out to win from Perrow and Purdie. Dave Hoogenboom another pre regatta favourite awoke from his slumber and was closing in fourth.
The old boys were feeling the pinch so the RO obligingly called a shorter course for the fourth race. Hall and Purdie fought for the pin only to look over their shoulder to see Perrow and Hoogenboom disappearing on a 30deg right hander. They both cleared out and finished 1.2, Purdie recovered well for a third. Great drama on the line saw Dawson pip Anderson and Hall for fourth. Brett Graham sailing for the first time in his new/old Finn showed great speed and consistency all day.
Day 2: Race 5
Gusty and shifty NW under 8 knts which increased to 12knots on the first beat. Winning the Pin was key which Purdie did from Hall who tacked away to the right side and got buried rounding the top mark ninth. Hoogenboom and Purdie created a clean break followed by Perrow and Hall at the gate for the first time. Hoogenboom pressured Purdie and Hall closed on both by the top mark. By then Oscar was up but all 3 stayed much the same downwind but created a gap on the field, by the now the wind was over 15knts and Perrow nailed Anderson in port starboard beauty on the finish line to take fourth.
Race 6 and the wind was 15-18knts by now and the field stretched out as Purdie again beat Hall for the pin but Hall held on to the port layline and the 2 had a hiking contest to the top mark…2 tack beats..perfect for finns! Hall chased Purdie for the race and Hoogenboom stayed close throughout. Perrow, Dawson , Brien and Anderson slogged out a tight race.
The final race starting at 18 knts saw Purdie lead to the top mark but a missed offset mark and broken vang saw him retire. Hall rounded in fifth but was up to second by halfway down the run in a tight group of boats. The Race suddenly changed as a 25+knt gust hit the fleet causing mass broaches and some spectacular rolls to windward. With his main competition out Hall navigated his way around the course to take the gun and the regatta. Brien clearly enjoying the fresh conditions produced his best result for second . But the performance of the race was by the Grand Master John Duff who rolled back the years and sailed his Finn like a 25 year old in the 25kts of breeze rocketing downwind when many others had retired.
Another well run and hosted regatta by Takapuna, at a stunning venue.
The next stop on the Craig Monk Summer Series is the 2014 Finn Nationals 6-9th Feb at Maraetai Sailing Club