by Rob Burn
Interislander Optimist Challenge and South Island Starling championships - Image: P Gibbs
Leonard Takahashi-Fry, 2011 and 2012 Optimist National Champion, showed his class beating a 90 strong Optimist Open fleet at the Interislander Optimist Challenge Regatta in Picton.
With one race outside of the top 10, Leonard gave the Fleet a lesson in consistancy to win by 23 points.
Racing started on Friday in very cool conditions, but once the breeze settled in, Race Officer Gerald Martin got four4 races off in rapid succession with only one course change as the breeze shifted to a very sailable Easterly.
The sun came out later during the day and warmed the sailors, Race Committee and those on the water, ready for the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club's now famous 'Taste of Marlborough' night at the end of racing. While the sailors enjoyed the chance of a spot prize, the adults enjoyed even more the fine local wines from Spy Valley and Auntsfield, the Mussels from Nelson Ranger Seafood, Salmon from NZ King Salmon and a variety of breads, olive oils, Scallops, Tua Tuas.
Saturday saw the sun and the start of the South Island Starling Champs on the Open Opti Course plus the 46 Strong Optimist Green Fleet racing inside Picton Harbour.
37 Starlings plus the Open Opti Fleet made an impressive sight heading out Picton Harbour.
The breeze again took some time to settle in and the Fleet moved up Queen Charlotte Sound to meet the conditions. Race Officer Gerald kept an eye on the Z Class Nationals being run by Waikawa Boating Club further up the Sound to avoid any conflict.
Interislander Optimist Challenge and South Island Starling championships Image: P Gibbs
He maintained a good separation of the two Fleets on the standard Optimist Trapezoid course and the races again ran smoothly. Two days down and eight good races completed made for tired but happy sailors and Race Committee. Easterly conditions again on the outside course but the green Fleet got three races away in quite brisk Southerly conditions with great viewing for all the spectators who could almost stand on the Start Line.
Much warmer conditions for Sunday, plenty of sun but the complication of a large Log ship being parked in the middle of the sailing area. The Optimist and Starling Fleet moved North up the Sound as the breeze came in but there was only time to get two races in before time was up in the Sailing Instructions. Ten races for the Open Optimists meant two drops and a great series. An early finish meant time to pack up and load for the next Interislander Ferry and an earlier trip home.
The Starlings and Green Fleet both got six races in. The Provisional results were available on the website immediately after each race to keep the supporters well informed. More than 1000 views on the website results were recorded over the weekend to illustrate the interest.
Prizegiving saw Murrays Bay Sailing Club sailors Leonard Takahashi-Fry, Nick Egnot-Johnson and Jackson Keon take first, second and third in the Open Optimists. Alistair Gifford of Queen Charlotte Yacht Club was fourth, Blake Woodfield of Lake Taupo/Napier Sailing Club, fifth.
Interislander Optimist Challenge and South Island Starling championships - Image: R Burn
The Green Fleet was won by Elliot Bacon of Worser Bay. second Rebecca Morgan of Kohimarama Yacht Club, third Will Wright of Worser Bay, fourth Emily Overend of Queen Charlotte, fifth Joel Kennedy of Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club.
The Interislander Trophy was convincingly won again by the North Island, the Trophy this year going to Murrays Bay Sailing Club. The trophy is awarded by the age group placings in both Optimist Fleets with the 'Island of Origin' winner taking it home.
The Starling South Island Championships was won by George Gautry of Muritai Yacht Club, Arkady Edmunds of Glendowie Boating Club second, Jeremy Mitchell, Murrays Bay third, Lola Stoodley , Timaru Yacht Club fourth, and Libby Porter, Kohimarama, fifth.
Queen Charlotte sailors Callum Radford and Henry Gibbs were in the top ten as part of a strong local Starling Fleet preparing for the upcoming Starling Nationals in Picton, April 22-26.
Full results for all Fleets on www.qcyc.org.nz
The Interislander Optimist Challenge Regatta continues to attract top quality competition from around New Zealand and a National and International Jury, including John Bullot as Chairman and Peter Johnson of the UK, fresh from Chairing the Jury at Sail Auckland and being part of the London Para Olympics. The Jury make a great effort to be approachable and friendly to the young sailors, ensuring they know the finer points of Sailing.
The event wouldn't be possible without the time and efforts of Queen Charlotte Yacht Members and supporters, and a special mention to the Murrays Bay Club marklayers who generously give their time, a great example of Clubs working together.
Thanks to the Interislander for the generous sponsorship and transport, including bringing over the Big Chill truck full of Auckland Optimists, Port Marlborough, Naiad inflatables, Marlborough District Council, Picton Top Ten Holiday Park, Yachting New Zealand, North Sails, Sail One, Oddies Marine, Hendersons and Force Racing to name but a few.
Prizegiving - Interislander Optimist Challenge and South Island Starling championship