by Max Hawkes
Max Hawkes reports on the Piedy Class Champs 7-8 May 2011:
Bucklands Beach Yacht Club Race Management had a tough job on their hands getting six races done on a day where the breeze couldn’t decide if it was Arthur or Martha.
After each race the start line and Top marks had to be reset in order to get a true windward leeward race done and RO Peter Stewart and his team served up a Gold medal winning performance getting all six starts away with minimum delay.
Saturdays forecast of breeze up to 50 knots was thankfully well out to lunch and after a brief shower early on, the 23 Piedy sailors were blessed with 15 knots and a perfect back drop of warm sunny blues sky’s against the lush green shore of Rangitoto.
Racing was Piedy glamour at its best with Jim Beam and Moehau making there long awaited return to racing after extensive surgery by owners Woody Bould and Lewis Callaghan respectively. The other entrants were class stalwart Adrian Percival and team racing borrowed boat Loose Unit, Josh Impey with his Rat Attack, Ben Lowe’s Yosemite Sam holder of 3 straight national titles, and Max Hawkes with his Moneyshot Team.
Nothing since the development of the BMW Oracles monster Tri has the sport of Yacht Racing seen such revolutionary tactics, strategy and technology adopted at the start. Right from the warning signal of Race 1 boats implemented ground breaking approaches to the start by throwing spinnaker sheets overboard and performing Man overboard drills in an attempt to confuse the opposition, hoisting kites, the goose-wing and adopting the hugely controversial but effective Yamaha 15 horse power method.
This series was shaping up to be one of the most humorous competitions to take place on the Tamaki Strait. But soon as all the crews had crossed the start line a new found focus came over them and the game faces went on as all the Piedys rounded the top mark in close proximity! You could throw a blanket over them it was that tight!
Woody and his Jim Beam team tasted Gunsmoke on race one. The deciding moment was the inspired call to gybe early inside Moneyshot on the final downwind and getting there bow out in front and sailed away from Moneyshot to take the win! Close behind in third was Rat Attack, Yosemite Sam, Loose Unit and Moehau.
Race 2 was all on at the final mark rounding with Yosemite Sam loosing the majority of their lead they had built up by going trawling at the hoist. Moneyshot found her legs downwind and charged up to Yosemite Sam and went for the pass near the finish line, but ran out of runway at Yosemite Sam took the gun by a parrots beak length at the line. Third was Jim Beam, followed by Loose Unit, Rat Attack and the mighty Moehau.
Race 3 the breeze had freshened and the Piedy fleet had a bit on at the start with Moneyshot being over early and having to do the big bear away narrowly missing the start boat on the re entry. Jim Beam sailed a great race displaying good boat speed all around the course to win beating Rat Attack and Loose Unit close behind. Fourth was Moneyshot who got in front of Yosemite Sam who had broken there Vang early on in the race and then followed by Moehau once again.
Race 4 and the breeze was still up! When the race got under way, the fleet quickly split with no clear clues as to which side would be pay. Jim Beam, Yosemite Sam, Moneyshot went left while Loose Unit, Moehau and Rat Attack went right. It was all on as the series was still up for grabs as the top four were separated by only a of couple of points. The first beat was titanic with all crews giving a super human effort to leverage an advantage. Yosemite Sam were looking good until gear damage and a broken mainsheet forced them to pull out of the race and inevitably the series. Jim Beam was looking strong heading out to the left when further carnage hit in the form of a broken mast! This ended what was shaping up to be a fairy tale return to racing for Woody and Jim Beam.
The first noticeable shift upwind came in the form of a big leftie and Moneyshot quickly tacked over and held a commanding lead at the top mark which they held on for the remainder of race 4. Second was Rat Attack, Loose Unit, and in fourth with their best finish of the series was Moehau!
Race 5 and the wind had abated slightly giving the Piedys the chance to be fully powered up and strut their stuff. Rat Attack jumped out quickly at the start and held a small lead on the first cross over Moneyshot. They split tacks once again and converged on the top mark where Moneyshot was able to just cross in front at the top mark. A big righty had come in and Rat Attack and Moneyshot found themselves reaching in to the bottom mark hard. The boats where smoking into the bottom mark when it was Moneyshot’s turn to have trouble when there spinnaker pole skied and snapped the parrot beak fitting. Rat Attack pounced as the Moneyshot crew struggled to get the Spinnaker under control and at the bottom mark it was game on as Rat Attack rounded hot on the heels of Moneyshot.
At the final top mark Moneyshot still held a slender lead over the Rat Attack and went straight in to the gybe hoist as the breeze was still very right. Moneyshot was coming into the finish low and with no pole compared to Rat Attack who was sailing in very hot and fast and was making a claim for the pin end it was neck and neck and nothing in it but Rat Attack had run out of runway and Moneyshot had taken their second gun by a slender margin.
Race 6 the final race of the day and the breeze had eased off even more to finish in a dying northerly. Rat Attack went hard left and came out at the top mark with the largest lead of the day, well in front of Loose Unit, Moneyshot, and Moehau. Rat Attack continued to build on their lead as they showed there class in the tricky conditions to take the gun easily over Moneyshot, Loose Unit and Moehau.
Race 7 on Sunday and it was decided to run a harbour course at a 1pm start which proved to be a master stroke as the only breeze of the day was provided by a nice sea breeze that developed about 2pm and provided enough puff for the Piedys to get a course in from Motukorea to Browns Navy Buoy and return.
It was a real lottery as the breeze slowly filled in patches around the race course and the Moneyshot team got the first jump at Browns Island and sailed away from Rat Attack and Moehau. The team of Moehau had earlier in the morning engaged in sabotage by tying buckets to Moneyshot hoping that the crew would remain oblivious to the transformation in boat speed. After rounding Navy buoy Moneyshot thought that they had it in the bag, but the Rat Attack boys had a different idea by wanting to turn the yacht race into a medieval jousting competition. With Spinnaker pole in position and Fender on the bow it was a game of chicken as Rat Attack and Moneyshot converged!
Thankfully both skippers pulled out of the ensuing drama as both teams went on to sail and finish what was a great conclusion to a wonderful series!
A big thank you goes out to our sponsor’s North Sails, Mt Gay Rum, Slam, and Burnsco Marine who provided excellent prizes for the event which was enjoyed by all the competitors.
The next racing on the Piedy calander is the two-handed SSANZ Simrad series, followed by the two handed nationals and the Des Townson Memorial Regatta with all races counting towards the Piedy World Series.
Pied Piper Championship 2011 Line Results
4191 Moneyshot 2 2  1 1 2 1 9 1
3340 Rat Attack 3  2 2 2 1 2 12 2
624 Loose Unit 5 4 3 3 3 3  21 3
2202 Jim Beam 1 3 1 5  7 7 24 4
634 MoeHau  6 6 4 4 4 3 27 5
5738 Yosemite 4 1 5 5  7 7 29 6