by Max Hawkes
Moneyshot clearing out at the Bottom Mark - Pied Piper Inter Galactics!!!
Ten Piedys motored out Saturday morning looking forward to a great days racing as conditions were warm and sunny, the only thing missing was the breeze. The forecast for the breeze to gradually increase in the afternoon never eventuated so Race Management had no option but to call it a day and try again tomorrow.
Sunday morning and the wind had arrived, five races were scheduled in what began as a cool north easterly breeze of 10 knots, perfect for the Piedys to strut their stuff!
Race 1 got away cleanly with all 10 Piedys lining up on the start line, Rat Catcher cleared out from the rest of the fleet to lead from door to door and take the gun in what was its first race back after 3 years out of the water. Rat Attack sailed a good race taking second in what was new owner Sam Thom’s first taste of Piedy racing action with Pied Piper, helmed by Chris Marsh rounding out the top 3.
Race 2 and the breeze was still 10 knots with the occasional squirt of a few knots more, once again another frantic start ensued with Moneyshot pushing the Rat Catcher hard, both Piedys were coming down the first downwind neck to neck when Rat Catcher lost their spinnaker halyard, Moneyshot pounced to lead at the bottom mark, but not before Tom Kearney free climbed the rig to retrieve the halyard and re-hoist the kite before it cost them to much ground. This time it was Moneyshot leading at the top mark, rounding a few boat lengths ahead to be hauled in by Rat Catcher as it sailed to the pin end of the line as Moneyshot continued for the boat end. It was a nail biter of a finish with Rat Catcher surging ahead on the line to take their second bullet of the day by 2 seconds and Rat Attack rounding out the top three.
Race 3 and the breeze was now a solid 13-15 knots, all the Piedys were still on their Number 1 headsails and hiking hard off the start, Moneyshot had won the boat end of the start line and held a good lead around the course with Rat Catcher chasing hard rounding the final top mark a few boat lengths back. It was another photo finish as Rat Catcher and Moneyshot converged on the finish line with Rat Catcher etching out a 3 second margin and her third consecutive gun! The racing was hair standing on the back of your neck stuff as all crews were feeling the intensity of the level of concentration that was going into the trimming of sails and helming of New Zealand’s favourite wooden keel boat fleet!
Race 4 and the breeze had continued to build, it was getting close to the threshold and change down to the number 2 as some heavier gusts started coming through as we waited to get underway. All 10 of the fleet persevered with the big headsails as the penultimate race of the series got underway! Rat Catcher quickly jumped out again to take the lead on the first beat before blowing the tack clip on the headsail and giving away the lead to Moneyshot. Rat Catcher had fixed the tack fitting and were back into it, chasing Jim Beam who had sailed consistently all regatta and were into second when Moneyshot broke the spinnaker pole which was the prelude to not one but two spectacular Chinese gybes!
Jim Beam pounced and snatched the lead at the bottom mark with Rat Attack and Rat Catcher following in close behind. Rat Catcher continued to dominate hauling in Jim Beam and Rat Attack to take their fourth consecutive gun of the day and barring any sort of disaster in the final race, the championship! The results in the fourth race really tightened things up for second,3rd and fourth as only a few points separated Rat Attack, Moneyshot and Jim Beam, so going into the last race there was a lot at stake.
In the fifth and final race of the championship, the wind had built to 16-18 knots and most of the fleet had decided it was time to switch down to the No.2 headsail, one exception was crowd favourite Lewis, Captain of the mighty Moehau as he and his crew exploded off the start line like men possessed!
Still flying their No.1 they sailed an excellent first beat bringing them in third spot as they rounded the top mark chasing hard on the heels of Jim Beam in second with Rat Catcher sailing out to their largest margin of the day with already a comfortable lead on the rest of the fleet. Jim Beam sailed a solid race to claim second in the last race which climbed them up to third on count back for the overall results with Moneyshot coming in at third, earning them second place overall for the series.
Congratulations goes to Team Rat Catcher; Ant Crossan, Tom Kearney, Sarah Tootil and Jacob Balemi for sailing a blackout performance to take all five guns on the day.
Also big thanks goes out to our loyal sponsors of the Piedys, North Sails, Mt Gay Rum, and Burnsco Marine for providing the fabulous prizes that were enjoyed by everyone who stayed around for the dock party on Saturday night and the prize giving on Sunday.
Next on the Piedy calander is the SSANZ Simrad series. Untill then ‘Get a Piedy up Ya!’